In early September we learned that Taipei-based China Airlines was “studying” adding flights to Ontario, California. The logic seemed to be that there’s a large Taiwanese population East of Los Angeles, and on top of that the airport is offering subsidies in hopes of attracting longhaul flights.
Given how much talk there always is in the airline industry, I wasn’t expecting this to actually come to fruition. To my surprise, just a few weeks later the airline announced their intentions to add 4x weekly Boeing 777-300ER flights between the two cities as of spring 2018. Then in late October, China Airlines announced that they’d operate a one-off flight from Taipei to Ontario, presumably to test out the facilities, given that no other commercial 777 operates flights to the airport.
I figured they’d wait until after that test to announce further service, but that’s not the case. These new flights are now on sale.
China Airlines will be offering daily 777-300ER flights between Taipei and Ontario as of March 25, 2018. Note that originally China Airlines said they’d offer 4x weekly flights, so this is a huge win for the area, as they’re getting almost double as many flights as expected. The new flight will operate as follows:
CI24 Taipei to Ontario departing 4:10PM arriving 1:20PM
CI23 Ontario to Taipei departing 3:45PM arriving 8:55PM (+1 day)
That’s not an ideal schedule for those looking to connect beyond Taipei, given that the 8:55PM arrival gets them in after the last major bank of flights for the night.
Also as of March 25, 2018, China Airlines will be discontinuing one of their two daily flights to LAX. Specifically, the following frequency will be canceled:
CI6 Taipei to Los Angeles departing 5:00PM arriving 1:40PM
CI5 Los Angeles to Taipei departing 3:30PM arriving 9:00PM (+1 day)
I’m a big fan of China Airlines. Their 777-300ERs are configured with 40 business class seats, 62 premium economy seats, and 256 economy seats. They have an excellent business class product, which I reviewed between Los Angeles and Taipei last year.
This is a great opportunity for Ontario Airport, given that they don’t currently have any commercial longhaul service. I’m curious to see if this flight survives long term. While LAX is expensive to fly to, they have the ability to sell tickets to connecting passengers, which there really aren’t many of in Ontario. Ontario Airport is waiving landing fees for new longhaul airlines, so clearly that’s part of the motivation for making the switch. Furthermore, there’s a big Taiwanese population East of Los Angeles, and I imagine the route could do well with cargo.
I think the biggest challenge they face is that international travelers who usually use ONT would also naturally look at flights out of LAX, while I’m not sure the opposite is true.
What do you make of China Airlines decision to shift a daily LAX service to Ontario?