United wants to fly Boeing 787s from San Francisco to Xi'an, China next year

Want to go to Xi'an, China?

If you get the urge next year, United Airlines will be your best bet. The Chicago-based carrier said Tuesday it wants to fly from San Francisco to Xi'an - a Central Chinese city with more than eight million people - three times per week from May 8 through Oct. 27. United would use a Boeing 787 if it receives government approval. 

Flying less-than-daily for a short period, United will be testing the market to see if demand is there. No airline has ever flown between Xi'An and the United States. 

United is already the only U.S. airline to fly to a Mainland Chinese city other than Beijing or Shanghai, having launched flights in June 2014 between San Francisco and Chengdu. United reports those flights are doing well, but it's impossible to know for sure unless you work for the airline. 

Loyal readers will recall that I foreshadowed this move earlier this month when I wrote, "United Airlines is considering three new long-haul international routes next summer from San Francisco International Airport."

In that post, I wrote that United was likely going to add three new long-haul Boeing 787 routes from SFO in Spring/Summer 2016. This is what I had heard:

  • Two routes would be served less-than-daily. (I think it's safe to say Xi'an is one of them.)
  • One route will be daily. 

Airlines change their plans all the time, so there's no guarantee United will announce two more SFO routes for next spring and summer. But given that demand is strong and fuel is relatively cheap, I think it makes sense for airlines to experiment with route expansion. 

What do you think? Do you expect United will add more 787 routes from SFO? To where?


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