The Sino-US aviation market is likely to witness a recovery in business travel demand by the middle of this year due to increased corporate activity to stimulate economic growth, according to a top executive of a leading US airline.
Glenn Tilton, chairman and CEO of United Airlines, said, ‘Our corporate customers need their sales people to conduct business and look for new market opportunities. The airline industry will be a beneficiary of, if not economic growth, the efforts to stimulate growth in a difficult economy.’
Tilton made the remarks on the sidelines of the three-day 2009 US-China Aviation Symposium hosted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the US Trade and Development Agency.
Chicago-based United is the world’s largest transpacific passenger carrier between China and the US.
United has reduced capacity on routes to Beijing by 28% by shifting from flying the Boeing 747 to the smaller B777 airplanes.
The airline also temporarily suspended the Washington-Beijing nonstop service for the month of February. It also plans to defer the start of a nonstop service between San Francisco and Guangzhou until next year.
Glenn Tilton said, ‘These are temporary decisions, for what we expect will be a temporary market condition and should not be seen as a sign of retreat or a lack of confidence in the US-China market in the near term.’
China Daily reported that Li Lei, an aviation analyst with CITIC China Securities said, ‘That is only temporary. Over the mid- to long-term, we will still see strong passenger growth on routes between China and the US.’