Delta, United to double China flights under new US-Sino accord

Aug 19, 2020

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Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will double their flights to China beginning later in August this month under a new accord that increases air service between the U.S. and China.

Both carriers can fly up to four round-trips per week between the two countries under the new agreement, according to U.S. authorities. Chinese airlines are also able to fly a combined total of eight weekly flights among them.

Delta plans to to double its services to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) from both Detroit (DTW) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) to twice weekly, spokesperson Morgan Durrant told TPG. Flights will continue to stop at Seoul Incheon (ICN) to switch crews with the additional frequencies beginning on Aug. 24.

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United will double service between San Francisco (SFO) and Shanghai to four-times a week, the Star Alliance carrier said. The flights also stop in Seoul with the added frequencies starting on Sept. 4.

Delta flies an Airbus A350-900 to Shanghai, while United flies a Boeing 777-300ER. Both jets feature each airlines’ latest onboard product.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines are the only Chinese carriers flying to the U.S. in August, according to Cirium schedules. China has not indicated how it will divvy up the four additional weekly flights among its airlines.

Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Travel to China remains restricted. Foreigners are not allowed to enter the country except for a limited number of nationals from select nearby Asian countries, including South Korea.

U.S. airlines have reported carrying a significant amount of cargo on long-haul flights, including those to China. Executives at United have said that freight demand is driving much of its international flying more than passenger demand.

Even with the additional frequencies, air service between China and the U.S. remains far below the up to 52 daily flights airlines flew before the coronavirus pandemic. Carriers slashed schedules in January and February in an early effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and the Chinese government has severely restricted international flights since March.

The latest increase in flights follows a diplomatic spat between U.S. and Chinese authorities that almost saw all flights between the countries curtailed in June.

Related: These are the international long-haul routes American, Delta and United plan to fly in August

Featured image by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images.

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