Lucky Air is looking to launch two new long-haul services from its base in Kunming to Russia and America later this year.

According to China Aviation Daily, the low-cost carrier – a subsidiary of HNA Group – has submitted an application to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, detailing its intention to operate twice-weekly flights to both Moscow and Los Angeles.

The proposal detailed that the two new services, slated for a December launch, would be operated by the B787-9. Given that Lucky Air does not currently have any Dreamliners in its fleet, it’s likely that the carrier would utilise parent company Hainan Airlines’ B787s instead. However, the LCC has stated its intention to double its fleet to 52 aircraft by 2017, so future widebody aircraft orders may be on the cards.

Meanwhile, the Kunming–Moscow and Kunming–Los Angeles services will benefit the member airlines of the U-Fly Alliance – of which Lucky Air is a member alongside HK Express, Urumqi Air and West Air.

If plans go ahead, the world’s first LCC alliance could soon offer its customers with entry points into Europe and the US.

Long-haul routes were previously deemed unprofitable for the low-cost model, however, modern aircraft such as the B787 and A350 offer greater fuel-efficiency and range, enabling budget airlines to fly farther at lower costs. The current depressed cost of fuel is another significant factor that many carriers are benefiting from.

This move would also allow U-Fly to compete with  Value Alliance, which boasts a larger number of LCC members, and is reportedly prepping to launch flights to Europe from next year.

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Clement Huang