SFO expects more China flights

Daily passenger flights between the United States and China are expected to more than double by 2012, and officials at San Francisco International Airport, one of the main hubs for U.S.-to-Asia travel, said Tuesday that they plan on lobbying for more flights to this region.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said a bilateral aviation agreement between the two nations reached last week could stimulate $5 billion in revenue for U.S. airlines over the next several years. As part of the deal, American air cargo companies will also gain virtually unlimited access to China.

On the heels of that announcement, United Airlines, SFO’s largest carrier, announced that it will resume direct service between SFO and Taipei, Taiwan, on June 8, after a four-year hiatus following the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in that region. United officials said the company would start with one daily flight between the two countries.

In response, officials at SFO, which joins Los Angeles International Airport as two of the state’s biggest hubs for U.S-to-Asia travel, said they plan on angling for more flights to the Guandong region of China in particular. SFO spokeswoman Kandace Bender said roughly 80 percent of travelers to China from SFO visit that region of the country and the airport is looking forward to lobbying for more service there. She noted that there is no direct flight to that region from SFO.

“This is good news for Northern California and the Bay Area, since we have kind of a built-in audience for travel to China,” Bender said.

Colorado-based aviation consultant Mike Boyd said that while the new agreement is sure to benefit SFO, Detroit Metro Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport may stand to benefit the most. Detroit may become a connection between Latin America and Asia, where much business and leisure travel takes place, Boyd said. Furthermore, American Airlines, headquartered at DFW, has much of the market share for flights to Brazil, another country that sees much travel to Asia.

“San Francisco and Los Angeles already have the service to Asia,” Boyd said. “The Midwest, I think, is really where the changes are going to happen.”

tramroop@examiner.com


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