Sichuan Airlines Adding Flights From LAX To Jinan, China

A couple of weeks ago Sichuan Airlines began flying between Los Angeles and Hangzhou, China, with connecting service to Chengdu. What made this especially interesting is that the airline announced the route just a few days before they began service. I don’t ever recall seeing an airline provide such little lead time before starting a route.

We’ve seen Chinese carriers expand their US route networks a lot lately. This is probably largely caused by the regulation that only allows each longhaul route to be served by one Chinese airline. As a result, there’s an incentive for Chinese carriers to add these routes as soon as possible, so they can prevent their competitors from operating the routes first.

When you include Xiamen Air’s requested route between Los Angeles and Xiamen, there is service from LAX to Beijing, Changsha, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Xiamen.

lax-china-routes

Well, in addition to Sichuan Airlines’ new twice weekly flight between Los Angeles and Hangzhou, it looks like the airline is now adding a second route to Los Angeles. Per @airlineroute, Sichuan Airlines will be adding twice weekly flights (Tuesdays and Saturdays) between Los Angeles and Jinan as of December 6, 2016. Much like the flight to Hangzhou, there will be continuing service to Chengdu on the same plane.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

3U8699 Chengdu to Jinan departing 9:25AM arriving 11:50AM
3U8699 Jinan to Los Angeles departing 1:50PM arriving 10:50AM

3U8700 Los Angeles to Jinan departing 12:50PM arriving 6:50PM (+1 day)
3U8700 Jinan to Chengdu departing 8:50PM arriving 11:25PM

This route will also be operated by an Airbus A330-200, which unfortunately features angled seats in business class.

lax-ctu

Much like Sichuan’s previous route to LAX, we’re also seeing great introductory fares on this route. A roundtrip business class ticket from Los Angeles to Jinan will cost you ~$1,636 including all taxes and fees. The fare is the same if continuing on to Chengdu.

sichuan-fare

Bottom line

It’s crazy to see the pace at which Chinese carriers are adding flights to the US. While it’s cool to see Sichuan’s expansion, it’s unfortunate that they’re not in any alliance, and also that they’re the only Chinese carrier flying to LAX without a flat bed business class product.

Comments

  1. Why is it that each longhaul route can be serviced by one Chinese airline? Is that China’s rule or the FAA?

    It’ll be interesting to see how Chinese airlines expand over the next 20 years, since they’re expected to buy 1 trillion dollars worth of planes. Makes me wonder if the longhaul regulation will be changed.

  2. I fly to Asia a couple of times per year, and I had not even heard of a city called Jinan. I assume that this is part of an unsustainable bubble of expansion by the proliferation of Chinese carriers that will rapidly rise and fall… and I imagine some airline CEO route expansion ego involved here.

  3. @erickallen – Jinan is just a small provincial capital of over 7 million. I visited last year for a few days. Not too much for a tourist, but definitely a develop-ed/ing, sprawling city. Sizeable pool of flyers who may want to travel to US.

  4. I’m surprised no Chinese airlines has started Qingdao – US yet. The city should be able to sustain the route more than Jinan.

  5. @john

    Los Angeles is about 4 million people within the LA city limits. LA county has about 10 million, and the entire metropolitan area is estimated to be around 18 million.

  6. The thing about Chinese cities is that some cities even larger than Denver go mostly unnoticed by many because they’re tiny in proportion to huge Chinese cities like Guangzhou or Shanghai. However, Jinan’s metro population seems to be larger than Changsha and Qingdao. I guess that’s what happens when a country has over a billion people in it.

  7. At this point, I think these carriers are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Shoot first and ask questions later. All the prime routes have be taken up by the big 3 Chinese carriers.

    I think CA introduced a route to Calgary last year. They’re already reducing the frequency.

  8. Americans tend to compare China to the US. But China has been much more dense for long long time. It’s America that is the population upstart. China had a population of nearly a half a billion people when the first waves of immigration from the Canton region started in the 1800s. The US in those days had about 30 million total.

  9. I guess my point is that other Chinese cities, even small ones that have gotten routes to the US, have some industry that seems to justify the creation of a new route. Shenzhen = obvious, Xian has tourism, Hangzhou kind of also does (but I wonder about that one), Chengdu/Chongqing large industries. Jinan? What do you know that is there?

  10. Thrilled! I’m from Jinan myself.
    ATM always fly into PEK and then takes me another 5 hours to get home from the airport (2hr airport – Beijing train station, 30min wait time, 1.5hr train ride and 1hr taxi from Jinan train station to home).
    Flying into Jinan directly will save me 4hrs in total.
    When you think about the total journey time (3hr pre-flight +16hr airborne + 5hr post-flight) of 24hrs, a 4hr saving each way is very significant. It basically means I get to spend almost a whole more day with my family before I have to head back.
    Absolutely thrilled!!!

  11. Grown up in Jinan, I hope this is a good start. I wish there would be a direct flight from Jinan to New York some day. Jinan as a city is not as important and noticed as Shenzhen, Xi’an, etc, but the main reason that there is not many international flight is that it is too close (in Chinese bullet train standard) to Beijing so there is no need to develop longhaul directly from TNA.

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