More Japan flights from United Continental
Newly formed US airline giant United Continental will add a leg between Hong Kong and Narita from October 31 in a move to strengthen its share of the trans-Pacific market.
Since the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines received approval from Washington last October, the new carrier has been harmonising airfares, integrating products and redeploying its aircraft between routes to make its service more efficient.
As the largest operator on the trans-Pacific route, with 11 daily flights from the mainland and Hong Kong and nine from Japan, it wants to reinforce its hubs in Asia, where air traffic demand continues to post stellar growth.
The daily flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo marked the seventh route operated by the carrier from the city and offered an option for passengers to fly beyond to Guam and different destinations in the United States, including Seattle, New York and Los Angeles, said James Mueller, vice-president of United Continental.
Mueller said that the new flights would not necessarily 'steal' passengers from its existing Continental service, but responded to the needs of travellers who opted to stop over in Tokyo.
Hong Kong and the mainland would continue to be the focus of expansion, due to the strong traffic demand, Mueller said.
On the other hand, the carrier would downgrade the service from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh and Singapore to a 276-seat B777 from a 374-seat B747 as the demand on these legs was not justifying the use of a jumbo jet.
Next year the airline will take delivery of six of the 50 Boeing 787s it has ordered, which will open the market in secondary Asian cities.
Last month, the carrier announced a US$550 million investment plan to upgrade inflight service.