Xiamen Air Launching Flights Between New York And… Fuzhou?!?

Xiamen Air is a quickly growing Chinese airline, which is a bit behind the competition in terms of their North American presence. So far the airline has announced flights from Seattle to Shenzhen and from Vancouver to Xiamen. It’s a bit puzzling that they’re operating the two flights to different airports, since there’s value in building a single hub and giving passengers lots of one-stop connection opportunities.

Xiamen Air is looking to expand further, and for a while it has been rumored that they’ll be further expanding their US flights.

Xiamen-Air-787

Per routesonline.com, Xiamen Air will be launching 3x weekly flights between New York JFK and Fuzhou as of February 15, 2017. The flight will be operating with the following schedule:

MF849 Fuzhou to New York departing 9:15AM arriving 10:55AM
MF850 New York to Fuzhou departing 12:55PM arriving 5:00PM (+1 day)

The flight will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, in both directions.

The route will be operated by a Boeing 787 in a three cabin configuration. The plane has four first class seats (one row in a 1-2-1 configuration).

Xiamen-Air-787-First-Class

It also has 18 fully flat business class seats (three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration).

Xiamen-Air-787-Business-Class-2

Xiamen-Air-787-Business-Class-1

While Xiamen Air had some incredible introductory fares to Seattle (and continues to have those great fares, actually), it doesn’t look like they have similarly great fares between New York and Fuzhou, at least not yet.

Xiamen-Air-JFK

Do keep in mind that Xiamen Air has a very lucrative upgrade program available at the airport (in theory), which even lets you double upgrade from economy to first class, on a space available basis.

Xiamen-Upgrade

I’ll keep an eye on the route, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see some great introductory fares. Otherwise I suspect we’ll see a good amount of first & business class award availability on this flight.

Xiamen Air’s expansion plans are puzzling. In general expansion from Chinese carriers can be challenging, given that only one Chinese carrier can operate each longhaul route (this is why Hainan started flights between Los Angeles and Changsha, since Air China already operates flights to Beijing). However, in Xiamen’s case, there’s no other Chinese carrier competing in the US to Xiamen market as of now.

Their three longhaul routes between North America and China all operate to different Chinese cities. That seems silly, since presumably they could do much better with connecting passengers by having a centralized hub and offering one-stop service between all kinds of cities. As it stands, passengers have to make two stops to get to many cities, which is more than a lot of passengers are willing to make.

Xiamen-North-America-Routes

What do you make of Xiamen Air’s new route between New York and Fuzhou?

Comments

  1. Yup. Lots Chinese immigrants from Fuzhou live in NYC and surrounding areas. Do your social/historical research before posting please.

  2. @ Ben — I was aware that there was a big population from the region in NYC. My point was simply that if they’re trying to build a fairly global airline, they’re best off operating some sort of a hub system, rather than just a bunch of point-to-point routes. Passengers are often willing to make one connection, but if you have to make two connections, but two connections makes things significantly more complicated. This is especially true for those wanting to transit without a visa.

  3. I remember seeing data points suggesting NYX-FOC is the largest Sino-US markets without nonstop services. Impact will be on CX, CA, MU, CZ
    Also curious about the J fare deal, similar to SEA-SZX, if possible

  4. @Ben Fuzhou immigrants (illegal back then through jumping off ships and smuggling but many turned legal now somehow) don’t need to make connections. They just want to go home and visit families. Plus, as you mentioned, Chinese gov’t allows one city pair per one airline. MF needs to capture this route now.

  5. @ Ben — Right, but I’m guessing for the most part those are leisure travelers and it’s not especially high yielding. My point is that they’re alienating a lot of potential higher yield/premium cabin passengers by not allowing connection opportunities. Turning profits on 15 hour flights is tough, so I just don’t see how this flight will be high yield enough to be profitable. I have no doubts it will be full, though.

  6. More direct to you question, tho, it’s a possible result of local gov’ts subsidising airlines for flying nonstop to overseas cities…just my hunch

  7. Great route. Should help serve the huge Fujian population in NYC.

    And Ben, since when does it need to make money? I’d venture to guess much of Chinese carrier longhaul service is loss making, but viewed as in typical Chinese fashion as long term investment. The carriers tend to make lots of money back home, plus have regional government support/investment.

  8. Your assumptions about what their goal should be are probably off. Most other Chinese cities / regions (not including PEK/PVG) subsidize what is low yield loss making long haul service in order to further their economic goals. That’s probably what is happening here. And it’s definitely what’s happening in some of the long haul Chinese – US markets that are out there and flying today.
    I’m sure Xiamen Air will receive local monies from the Fuzhou government for this service, not a question.
    Oh, and very little of the demand out of / into China is high yielding. Most is trash, with one or two notable exceptions

  9. The owners of the disgusting flavored American Chinese food (not authentic Chinese food) restaurants are almost all Fuzhou people, usually by families. New York is the most largest immigrant city for Chinese as most (>99%) Chinese love megapolis, so Fuzhou people are mostly based there. Also. Chinese people hate transit and prefer nonstop flights, as Chinese people love convenience/high efficiency, and for nonstop, they can avoid trouble as much as possible caused by language. It may not be a profit route, but no worry, the central or local Chinese gov will subsidize it.

  10. They’re more than 2 millions americans(ABC from Fuzhou)living in Fuzhou,and the amount of travel is always been exponentially growing,next time you gonna write something about China,plz do the research before you start to picking on their value,nothing is built in one day,we are all happy to have u review airlines product,but no one on earth have asked to criticise the market potential,your blog’s quality is getting so much lower than before,and if you trying to bring in conversation,might as well stay on twitter only.

  11. Lucky please spend more time on your area of expertise – luxury flights/hotels and FFPs, those are the posts we come to read. Enjoying airline travel does not make one an expert on airline operations and particularly not Chinese airlines, as evidenced by this post.

  12. At this point, the Chinese carriers are grabbing what they can grab coz it’s one airline one route. I see it as shoot first and ask questions later. All the lucrative routes from the big 3 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are taken by the big 3 mainland carriers.

  13. Both Fuzhou and Xiamen are huge hubs for XiamenAir, with plenty of flights to other cities in China as well as Southeast Asia, so there will be plenty of one-stop connections from both New York and Vancouver. The SEA-SZX-XMN flight is the more puzzling one – perhaps they wanted to operate SEA-XMN nonstop but were concerned about load factors?

  14. @Ben since when do a blogger need to do “social/historical research before posting” ? this blog is not a classroom lecture, it’s for info sharing. if you have certain level of knowledge/expertise, you put them out but nobody takes it as a creed. you do your own research if you want to get to the bottom of it.

  15. Haha, I love the army of angry commenters who come out whenever Lucky posts something about China.
    I did my own Wikipedia research though. It looks like Fuzhou is a big hub for Xiamen with connections to many other places so this flight allows a one stopper for many. In addition Fuzhou and Xiamen are 1.5 hours apart by train, so this would be similar to American having hubs in JFK and PHL.

  16. It’s funny to see all these people saying how Ben doesn’t have the expertise to post on these subjects, all the while they almost certainly know far less. Bunch of hypocrites among these raging commenters. Bring Frank back, his stuff was just as moronic, but at least it was funny.

  17. Visited my cousin there. Great city to visit with America-esque air quality. However, foreign presence at the city is low.

  18. Really?! Lucky?! Don’t you know China Eastern (MU588) also has a direct (not non-stop) flight from JFK to FOC? The demand is there. I lived with a Fujian family in New York City for 6 years. You won’t believe how many people from Fujian in New York – at least millions of them. Plus there are a lot of Americans mostly (a lot of them are ABCs) in Fujian.
    Please do your research before post something. Too young, too simple, sometimes naive.

  19. Not surprised at all. In fact, they should’ve done it years ago given the already-huge Changle population in Flushing and Sunset Park (FOC is physically located in Changle, Fujian and NOT FUZHOU). Another thing is that the Fujianese have a tradition to raise their (foreign-born) children in their hometown (mostly because the parents are working 12 to 16 hours a day and have no time to care for the children) so they usually pay a fee to have someone fly their kids back to Fujian (Chinese law does NOT prohibit children to travel without their parents, regardless of age) so they can be raised in Fujian by their grandparents or other relatives, and the easiest way to do this is through a non-stop flight.

  20. Hi Ben

    Just a data point: I tried to use KE SkyPass miles to redeem Xiamen F, only to be told that was impossible, because it turned out KE did not have any agreement for F redemption with Xiamen. Redeeming J was fine though. I ended up forgetting about Xiamen and redeemed Saudia (which was exotic enough for me) instead!

    Your fan from Hong Kong

    Thomas

  21. China and USA limited the flight available between countries.
    Since the Chinese carriers dont have extra rights to launch new route from major hub, they have to launch in 2nd/3rd class cities.

  22. Lucky, aren’t you aware that 99.7% of metro NYC was born in Fuzhou?!?! Have you ever even been on an airplane?

  23. @ Thomas — Hah, that’s awesome! May I ask what route you were booking? Just curious if they allowed a creative route on Saudia to Asia via the Middle East, or if it was a different market. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *