Air China Adds A New Route From Los Angeles To Shenzhen

Filed Under: Air China

As it stands, Air China is the dominant airline between Los Angeles and Beijing, as they offer up to 3x daily flights between the two cities. Historically China has had a “One Route, One Chinese Airline” policy. Under this rule, only one Chinese airline can operate each longhaul route. There are a few markets where there are exceptions, but in a vast majority of longhaul markets that policy exists. Apparently the country is thinking of abolishing the policy, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway, as part of that, Air China is the only Chinese airline allowed to fly from Los Angeles to Beijing, China Eastern is the only Chinese airline allowed to fly from Los Angeles to Shanghai, etc. This policy generally encourages airlines to start routes a bit prematurely so they can “claim” them, which is why we’ve seen explosive growth in the routes between the US and China in the past few years, as airlines rush to beat their competitors to the punch.

Well, the newest route between Los Angeles and China is now bookable. Air China will be launching 3x weekly flights between Los Angeles and Shenzhen as of December 7, 2017. The flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 with the following schedule on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, per @airlineroute:

CA769 Shenzhen to Los Angeles departing 11:30PM arriving 8:00PM
CA770 Los Angeles to Shenzhen departing 10:50PM arriving 5:40AM (+2 days)

The route was originally announced back in August, was briefly bookable for full fare tickets, then they pulled it for a while, and now it’s back, which is why I’m writing about it.

Air China’s 787-9s feature 30 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 229 economy seats. Business class on Air China’s 787s is the same as it is on the rest of their longhaul fleet — at least they’re consistent. They have B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, which are fully flat, though not all seats have direct aisle access.

Award availability on the route is excellent, whether you’re looking to book economy or business class. Just about every day the flight operates has award availability.

Shenzhen is also a pretty awesome city. It’s just miles from Hong Kong, so when I visited last year I couldn’t help but notice some similarities to Hong Kong.

This growth is unbelievable when you add it all up. In December, when Air China launches this route and Xiamen Air launches their routes to Qingdao, Chinese airlines will fly nonstop from LAX to a dozen destinations in mainland China.

Anyone consider taking Air China’s new route between Los Angeles and Shenzhen?

  1. I doubt this route will survive for long. Chinese government grant massive subsidies (Mr. Bastian, China Eastern receives more subsidies than Emirates) to airlines to encourage them to open longhaul international flights out of smaller cities.
    There’s several reason this route will fail:
    – Air China launched SZX-MEL route and one month later, China Southern took over that route.
    – Air China launched SZX-FRA few years ago, 4x weekly on 77W, now that route reduced to 3x weekly on 789.
    – If you’re looking to HKG (25 miles away), CX and AA operates 4x daily to LAX on 77W and Hong Kong Airlines is going to challenge them using a 359.
    Summary: Air China don’t have competitive edge in SZX/HKG-LAX market at all.

  2. @A – Shenzen is a super popular destinations for many in the tech/electronics sector. While SFO might be better IMO, this seems like an option for those who value nonstop over choosing an american/other asian carrier.

  3. @A – the transfer to Shenzhen can be tedious from HKG depending on mode, so I know plenty of people that might prefer a non-stop to SZX. I’ve done it in a car service from HKG and it took us about 75 minutes to get through immigration into China from Hong Kong.

    I must say, the SkyPier at HKG looks really easy to transfer to given you don’t go through HKG immigration and they grab your bags for you. (Anyone ever tried this service?)

  4. Distance is irrelevant when you have an international border to cross; so even though HKG is so close to SZX, it can seem like worlds away. This flight will do ok though more obvious choice would have been SFO.

  5. @CR : UA and CA has some form of partnership (but not a JV since there’s no open skies), so i’m suspecting UA is reasonably informed about their service plans.

    CA doing SZX-LAX and UA launching SZX-SFO perhaps 2 years later would nicely compliment each other.

    And unlike most of those stupid TPAC routes for the sake of the subsidy, most forget that SZX is a full-fledged Star Alliance hub averaging 176 daily departures.

  6. The fact that “A” refers to it as the “SZX/HKG-LAX” tells me he knows nothing about how that market actually works.

  7. I’ve used SkyPier, and while it’s definitely a better option than clearing immigration in Hong Kong and taking a car/transit, it’s still time consuming. I would probably choose to fly direct on a slightly inferior airline if I needed to be in Shenzhen. That being said, I’ve never flown Air China, and their product looks less than ideal for such a long flight.

  8. I know several folks in the office that are looking forward to this flight. We were visited by our CA rep earlier in the year about it.
    Yes AA/CX are great to HKG, but the ability to access SZX directly will shave easily a couple hours off the door to door trip. Also, CA offers some great biz class pricing even before the corporate discount is added in.

  9. The one route one airline policy does not apply to air china. They can operate anywhere the want regardless of if it is occupied or not.

  10. I’m a US expat living in Shenzhen, so I am excited for the potential of this route. I usually fly back to the US via HKG and normally take the 30 minute airport ferry. However it does add on significant time, and with the ferry schedule, you can’t book any flight before 12pm (first ferry at 9am and you have to allow 3 hours between ferry/flight departure or else they won’t let you board).

    Driving is becoming a bigger issue too, as China just announced that everyone, including people in private cars, will have to get out and walk through immigration. This will probably add 30-45 minutes to to/from the airport.

    It is also worth noting that Shenzhen has almost twice the population of HK and it’s economy is expected to surpass that of HK by the end of next year. Between companies like DJI, Tencent, Huawei, and even Walmart’s China headquarters, there are dozens of major global corporations with significant presence, esp in the Tech sector. Hopefully this route can work.

    Now for connecting traffic, well, good luck with that. Connecting within China is a test of will and patience, with routine delays and no updates.

  11. @A the subsidies are provided by local governments, open to both domestic and international carriers… Can’t blame them…

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