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China Airlines confirms Ontario California B777 route

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October 6th 2017

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Taiwan’s China Airlines (CAL)will launch four times a week Taipei-Ontario, California B777-300ER flights from “spring 2018”. Read More »

CAL chairman, Nuan-Hsuan Ho, and Ontario International Airport president, Alan Wapner, took part in a signing ceremony in California on September 29 to mark the route decision. Ho said CAL will be the first Asian carrier to launch regular services to Ontario, and added the route could be upgraded to daily during peak season, “depending on market demand”.

CAL said a feasibility study it conducted on the route returned an “enthusiastic response as the airport is more convenient for travellers living on the east side of Greater Los Angeles”. CAL said the Ontario service would “dramatically cut travel, immigration and luggage pickup times”. Eastern Los Angeles has a significant population of citizens with Chinese ethnicity and California is Taiwan’s fourth-largest trading partner, accounting for significant cargo volumes.

The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, as of April 2017, said travellers from Asia accounted for 32.8% of all tourist arrivals in the U.S. Statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have reported that traffic between the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. is expected to grow by 6.1% per annum in the next five years.

Ontario Airport is managed by the Ontario International Airport Authority, a joint venture between the city of Ontario and San Bernardino County. “Today’s development is a monumental step in an evolution to becoming the second trans-oceanic gateway airport in the history of Southern California. Equally impressive is that it occurred within a year of the airport’s transition to local control,” said airport authority president Wapner.

[Editor’s note: Ontario won’t be the second trans-Pacific gateway in Southern California. There are scheduled flights from Los Angeles and San Diego to the Asia-Pacific.]

The airport authority is waiving landing and terminal fees for carriers who launch long-haul routes from Ontario.

"Asia is such a great opportunity because 54% of all passenger demand that originates in Southern California, for travel to Asia, comes from zip codes closer to Ontario airport than Los Angeles Airport (LAX)” airport authority CEO, Mark Thorpe, told the Daily Bulletin.It remains unclear if CAL will maintain its twice-daily flights to LAX when it launches the Ontario route.

Analysts have questioned the route’s commercial viability, particularly as a complement to double daily flights to LAX. CAL’s B777-300ERs are relatively premium-heavy, with 40 business class, 62 premium economy and 256 economy class seats. Yields out of Ontario are expected to be low, particularly at the front end of the plane.

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