[photopress:hainan_airlines.jpg,full,alignright]Hainan Airlines has applied to operate a non-stop flight between Beijing and Seattle in the United States starting next June. After the application is approved, the airline will become the fourth Chinese carrier for flights between China and the United States. The other three are Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
(The privately-owned Hainan Airlines did a pretty good job garnering publicity for its flight to Lhasa from northwest China’s Xi’an. The 137 passengers on the inaugural flight received iconic Tibetan welcomes featuring butter tea and Hada. The flight attendants entered into the spirit of the act as seen in our illustration.)
The application follows a recent agreement between China and the United States on doubling the number of passenger flights between the two countries by 2012. Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth largest carrier, has applied to operate the Beijing-Seattle route using Airbus A330 planes.
As an interim measure the Airbus airplanes will probably be leased until Hainan Airlines takes delivery of new Boeing widebody jets. In 2005, the company ordered eight 787 Dreamliners and the first plane is scheduled to be delivered in June 2008. Currently there are no non-stop flights between Seattle and Beijing.
The transportation agreement allows 23 daily round-trip flights between China and the United States by 2012, up from the 10 flights at present. There is a mad stampede on among the American airlines to take up their share. This is not true in China.
The problem is that the profitable percentage of passengers will mainly be American and, by and large, Americans prefer to fly on their own carriers. It can be debated whether an American airline provides a better flight experience than a Chinese airline. Many frequent fliers who do have allegiance to either country think a plague on both their houses. Neither American nor Chinese airlines are up to the standards set by, say, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Emirates or even Qantas.
In 2010, the two countries are set to begin negotiations on an ‘open skies’ agreement, which will lift restrictions on commercial air traffic. Unless China’s airlines have lifted their game so that they offer a passenger experience the equivalent to, say, Cathay Pacific, then that agreement will mainly benefit the airlines of the United States rather than the airlines of China.
Source: China Daily
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