China Airlines, Taiwan’s flag carrier, has confirmed with multiple sources that it is evaluating the possibility of flights between its hub in Taipei and Ontario, California, an airport located northwest of Los Angeles. With this, the airline has become the first Asian carrier to publically announce that it is looking at flights to Ontario, after years of unconfirmed rumors.

The airline said in a press release that if a service were launched, it would allow passengers to continue flying into Los Angeles (LAX) or fly to Ontario (ONT) to “save on travel, immigration and luggage pickup time.” In addition, since Taiwan was added to the United States’ Visa Waiver Program, travel between the two countries had increased by 30%, according to government statistics. A Taipei-Ontario service would “provide travelers with more options and greater convenience for Taiwan-US travel, as well as to boost bilateral corporations on business.”

A recent market study conducted by China Airlines said that passengers on the east side of the Greater Los Angeles area were enthusiastic about the service due to its convenient location. Currently, China Airlines runs a series of complimentary bus shuttles for passengers traveling from the east side of the Greater Los Angeles area to LAX.

China Airlines has already submitted recommendations to the airport authorities and spoke of “necessary” improvements being planned by the airport currently. A formal agreement between the airport and the airline will be signed “once all related preparations are completed.”

A China Airlines Boeing 777-300ER at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo Credits: SpeedbirdHD

If flights between Taipei and Ontario were made official, it would shake up one of the busiest Asia-US markets, with currently five daily flights carrying over 1,600 seats a day between China Airlines and Taiwanese carrier EVA Air. While EVA Air currently dominates the market three daily flights to two, China Airlines could gain an edge with local business and VFR (visiting family and relatives) traffic, given its convenience.

Control over Ontario International Airport was transferred from Los Angeles World Airports to local authorities last year, after years of criticism of LAWA’s handling of the airport. Since the transfer, the airport authorities have fought for its first Asian route, noting negotiations with China’s Hainan Airlines and inviting a delegation from Korean Air for discussions.

This year, the airport had its first direct service to Asia, a twice-weekly charter service to Nanchang, China operated by Dynamic Airways. The airline pledged that if it was given flag carrier status by the US Department of Transportation, it would begin scheduled services to China in 2018, to cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Featured image by Itdccba via Wikimedia Commons.

Categories: Industry Talk