Despite other airlines expanding their routes to China, United Airlines will end service to Hangzhou in October 2017, as it faces weakness in the China market.
The Star Alliance carrier will end its three-times weekly flights between Hangzhou and San Francisco on October 16 after determining that the route is not currently meeting their expectations and is not economically sustainable.
United reported a 5.5% decrease in Pacific passenger unit revenues in the second quarter, attributing the drop to weak demand in China and Hong Kong. United Airlines expects the weakness to continue through at least the end of the year which is contrary to competitors.
Hangzhou was the Chicago-based carrier’s third destination, after Chengdu and Xi’an, in its much-touted expansion to secondary cities in China. It cited the capital of Zhejiang province’s proximity to Shanghai – only a one hour train ride away – as well as connections to partner Air China’s focus city there as among drivers for the route when service began in July 2016.
However, competitive pressures between China and the United States have mounted since flights began. Chinese and other Asian carriers have added a slew of new routes from secondary cities in China during the past year, including Sichuan Airlines between Hangzhou and Los Angeles.
Even with ending this route, United Airlines will remain the largest carrier between the United States and China with continued service to Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai Pudong and Xi’an.