Lucky Air Is Kunming To Los Angeles!

For obvious reasons I’ve always been intrigued by Lucky Air, even though I’ve never had the chance to fly them. Lucky Air is based in Kunming, China, and as of now just operates flights regionally. They’re essentially the low cost subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, and have the same parent company as them, as well as a few other airlines.

I’ll still never understand the Chinese aviation industry as such, given that you have a couple of dozen airlines that are largely government owned, and none of them are allowed to compete directly on longhaul flights. In other words, only one Chinese airline is allowed to operate in a single longhaul market, unless an exception is granted. That’s why we see so many inefficient routes being operated.

For example, Hainan Airlines is based in Beijing, and wanted to start service to Los Angeles earlier in the year. Since Air China already flies between Los Angeles and Beijing, Hainan instead decided to start service between Los Angeles and Changsha, even though a vast majority of passengers are connecting onwards from there.

Changsha
Changsha, China

Anyway, we’re getting off track here. While Lucky Air presently only operates shorthaul flights, it looks like they’ll be expanding to longhaul flights shortly.

Per China Aviation Daily, Lucky Air has submitted an application with the Civil Aviation Administration of China to operate two new longhaul routes out of Kunming before the end of the year, to Los Angeles and Moscow:

Pending government approval, the low-cost carrier will operate Boeing 787 Dreamliners on Kunming-Moscow and Kunming-Los Angeles routes in December, according to an announcement released Monday on the CAAC’s website.

Both Moscow and Los Angeles services will be operated twice weekly, the CAAC said.

Specifically, Lucky Air revealed it plans to introduced Boeing 787-9 jetliners in 2016 and expand its fleet size to 52 by 2017. Currently, the Kunming-based carrier operates 28 aircraft in total, including 11 737-700s, 10 737-800s, four Airbus A320-200s and three A319-100s.

On one hand, this seems like a very strange time to launch service to Moscow, given the state of economy there. Then again, Lucky Air is aimed primarily at Chinese leisure travelers, so perhaps it’s a popular time to go to Russia, given how cheap everything is. I saw tons of Chinese tour groups in Moscow.

Moscow
Moscow, Russia

Personally I’m most intrigued by the new route between Kunming and Los Angeles. Earlier in the year I had the chance to fly Hainan’s new flight between Changsha and Los Angeles, and just recently I booked Xiamen Air’s new flight between Shenzhen and Seattle. If this route actually materializes, I might as well try out Lucky Air’s US service as well.

LAX-KMG

I’m not sure where exactly Lucky Air would be getting their plane from, though. They don’t have any 787 on order, so perhaps they’ll be getting the plane from Hainan?

Hainan-Airlines-LAX-Lounge - 30
Hainan 787 at LAX

If so, I suspect it will be the same business class product that Hainan already offers. Or who knows, perhaps they’ll go super high density on this plane, and make it all economy. After all, Lucky Air is a low cost carrier, and airlines like Jetstar manage to get 335 seats on their 787-8s.

Hainan-Airlines-Business-Class-787 - 1
Hainan 787 business class cabin

Bottom line

It’s always cool to see new routes to the US, especially on airline that don’t yet serve the US. I’ll be watching to see if these Lucky Air flights materialize, and if so, you can bet I’ll be booking myself on their Los Angeles to Kunming route!

(Tip of the hat to @AirlineFlyer and gfrewqpoiu)

Comments

  1. We flew Lucky Air on a domestic route in 2013, and there was a lot of turbulence, so we felt “lucky” to land safely. Flight was typical Chinese airline flight.

  2. Hurray.
    One more low quality carrier joining the already-too-crowded dumpster fire that is LAX.
    I got off Cathay Pacific yesterday (First) at one the fixed remote stands they’ve built to the west of the International Terminal. The single jetway leads you to a small uninsulated building with switch-back ramps down to ground level. Crammed (literally) into a bus for the ride to the cluster of immigration.
    Nightmare.

  3. I’ve never flown Lucky Air, but I lived in
    Kunming for a month back in 2007. It’s a great city – warm year-round, doesn’t have the crowds or pollution of some of the other parts of China and the city center is much less sprawling than that of other major Chinese cities. It’s the capital of Yunnnan Province, which is full of beautiful mountains and other natural sites. Highly recommend a trip there.

  4. BG that’s bad luck. I was at LAX last week and the Bradley terminal was an absolute pleasure
    Arrival using the self service machines was very fast My bag was already on the carousel and I was landside almost 30 mins after disembarking the aircraft
    Departure was equally quick. No lines at the TSA and the staff were pleasant and efficient
    I must say the TBIT is pretty outstanding with a great selection of places to shop and eat
    They are catering for the masses as I noted a KFC is due to open shortly .. They realise not everyone can eat at Petrossian
    The concourses are spacious clean and welcoming
    Hopefully work on the midfield satellite will start soon now the demolished the hangar and that will eventually put an end the need for the remote stands
    .. Now if only Delta can work with Fentress to rebuild T2 and 3 to TBIT standards ….

  5. There’s tons of Chinese tour groups ANYWHERE you go. Anywhere I went in Korea (Seoul/Jeju) last month, there were the Chinese. Tons of ’em.

  6. @W

    Mmm, maybe not “ANYWHERE you go”. Didn’t see any Chinese tour groups in Patagonia or Namibia. Lots of Europeans though.

  7. @ James

    They must be more discriminate with their tourist dollars.. I saw many Chinese tour groups in Sweden two weeks ago . . . lots of ME twentysomething males too.

  8. Don’t take it too seriously. Both US and China airlines like to submit lots of applications and wait to see which route is approved.
    Also, no visa required for Chinese citizens if they travel in a tour group to Russia.

  9. HAINAN airline is different from china southern, china eastern and air china. Whike the later 3 airlines are sucessors of CAAC airline, Hainan airline is formed by Hainan government and CAAC, after when CAAC no longer run civil aviation services

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