With the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic shifting away from China to western countries, United Airlines is keen to resume passenger flights to the nation as soon as next month. Executives are just waiting for authorities in Washington, D.C. and Beijing to give their blessings.
In February, the rise of the virus forced United to suspend its flights to four Chinese destinations, including Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, and Hong Kong. According to Skift, United COO Andrew Nocella shared that his airline is now waiting for the go-ahead from the governments of the respective countries. Flights will restart after the approval is given.
“We are working with Washington, D.C. and China to figure out when we can reinstate passenger flights,” Nocella told employees in a virtual town hall meeting, as reported by Skift.
“We are ready to get all the necessary regulatory approvals to make that happen.”
With the coronavirus situation under control in China, many companies and workers will be looking to restart business between the two countries. The likes of Oracle, Google, Facebook, and Cisco heavily rely on United for its flights across the Pacific. Moreover, Apple spent $150 with the operator, including $35 million on the Shanghai service from San Francisco.
Therefore, United is eager to resume operations on this route. It is even selling tickets for flights that start on June 20th. However, Nocella admits that his firm may not make this deadline but still has high hopes for July.
United Airlines continued to fly to some European destinations after the White House enforced travel restrictions. Since travelers from the United States were still allowed to fly back and forth, the airline was still catering to their needs.
Several airlines continued to fly to the likes of the United Kingdom and Germany while these countries still had high rates of daily virus cases. Therefore, it isn’t so surprising that there are prospects of flying to China right now.
A balance is needed
One of the concerns would be about bringing the virus back into China, knowing that the US is struggling to contain it. However, China now has strict measures in place to prevent the spread as soon as passengers enter the country.
Anyone entering the country has to quarantine for 14 days at a government facility. This accommodation also has to be paid for out of the traveler’s pocket. Additionally, United has been introducing new hygiene measures across its operations to help reduce risk on its flights.
Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on its plans to fly to China. A spokesperson for the airline told us the below:
We will retain four China routes (San Francisco – Shanghai, San Francisco – Beijing, San Francisco – Chengdu, New York/Newark – Shanghai) in the June schedule while we continue to evaluate the feasibility of restarting passenger services to China.
Altogether, if United does resume flights to China shortly, effective procedures to contain the virus need to be upheld. Authorities and airlines need to adhere to hygiene policies if services do restart.
What are your thoughts on United’s prospects of flying to China? Is this is a good move for the airline? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.