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United Considers Resumption of US-China Flights



With the breadth of the coronavirus subsiding in China, and business subsequently returning, United Airlines could soon announce a resumption of passenger flights to China.

The likely first flights would be between San Francisco and Shanghai, according to Forbes.

And there’s a reason for that particular route.

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Forbes noted that Shanghai was United’s most-served destination in China with two daily flights from San Francisco, in large part thanks to Apple.

The iPod/iPad/iPhone giant bought 50 business class seats a day on the route, according to an internal United poster from 2019, and accounted for $150 million in annual revenue for the airline. That included $35 million a year from Apple just on the San Francisco-Shanghai route.

It’s also a good time for United – and other airlines, for that matter – to get back in the game. U.S.-based airlines suspended flights to China in late January but, up until a week or two ago, Chinese airlines continued to fly seven to nine flights a week.

That schedule drops to one flight a week, based on a previous decision to limit imported cases of the virus, for the month of April. That, Forbes noted, creates passenger spillover that United can pick up.

Chinese airlines plan to significantly increase flights in May.

A United spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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