As previously reported, United Airlines is set to connect its hub in San Francisco with Chengdu, capital of the western Chinese province of Sichuan. The city, alongside Shenzhen in southern China, is home to major manufacturing facilities of Foxconn, maker of Apple products. "More than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the city," Walter Dias, the airline's managing director, Greater China and Korea, said in the presentation at a recent media gathering in Hong Kong.
For more about the economic powerhouse, read Inside China: Chengdu.
The new route is to be served by a Dreamliner despite the problems the aircraft has encountered since its launch in October 2011, Dias enthused over its technologies. "If you look at the A380, it's a big aircraft and that's pretty much the story. It didn't change the flight experience. But on the 787 it is radically different – your body feels better, and because of the carbon-fibre body, it can humify the cabin air better."
Business First on United Airlines B787 Dreamliner
He also pointed out the light-body, fuel-efficient jetliner is ideal for long-haul routes to smaller cities. For an in-depth look at the state-of-the-art B787 and different inflight configurations between airlines, click here.
It has been confirmed that the service is set to launch on June 11 this year and the Dreamliner assigned to this route contains 36 business seats, 70 economy plus and 113 in economy. Flight UA008/UA009 is to operate three times a week.
UA and San Francisco International Airport are currently preparing the opening of renovated Boarding Area E in Terminal 3, scheduled for January 28. The 68,800 sq ft (6,392 sqm) boarding area, designed with eco-friendliness and energy saving in mind, will offer 10 gates for UA customers and has a capacity for 50 departures a day. It is also to offer an up-close view of the airfield and the Bay Area through a seven-metre tall window. Amenities include an interactive information and entertainment area called the Flight Deck; Fritz Hansen “egg” chairs and swivel lounge chairs; complimentary wifi; work stations and more than 375 power outlets; and a yoga room.
United has direct flights from five of its US hubs to China, including another Dreamliner service between Los Angeles and Shanghai.