Most expected it to be Taipei (TPE) or Guangzhou (CAN), but it turns out it’s Chengdu, China (CTU), the fourth largest Chinese city. Here’s the full press release from United:

United Airlines today applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for authority to begin nonstop service linking the airline’s San Francisco hub with Chengdu, China, the fourth-largest Chinese city, effective June 9, 2014. United intends to use the world’s most advanced passenger airplane, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, to operate three-times-weekly service to Chengdu. If approved, Chengdu will be the ninth destination United serves in the Asia/Pacific region nonstop from San Francisco, from which United offers more nonstop trans-Pacific flights from the United States than any other carrier – nearly twice as many as any airline from any West Coast city.

Flight Schedule
The proposed flights, subject to government approval, will depart San Francisco International Airport at 1:35 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 6:50 p.m. the following day (all times local). Service from Chengdu will depart at 10 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and arrive at San Francisco International Airport at 8:50 a.m. the same day.  Flying times will be approximately 14 hours, 15 minutes westbound and 13 hours, 50 minutes eastbound.  This new nonstop flight will shave nearly four hours off the typical travel time between the two cities.

About Chengdu
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, is the country’s fourth largest city, with a population of approximately 14 million in the urban area. In recent years, Chengdu has been one of the country’s fastest-developing cities economically, and more than 200 Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the city. Sichuan is famous as the natural habitat of the giant panda and home to one of China’s most popular cuisines. 

UA CTU Announcement

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Golfingboy August 29, 2013 - 9:53 am

TPE has already been announced ages ago and the flights are already loaded in the GDS.

02nz August 29, 2013 - 10:42 am

CTU makes sense – little competition (AFAIK this will be the only nonstop to North America), good connection opportunities with Star Alliance partner Air China (which has its secondary hub in CTU), and probably considerable potential for growth – wouldn’t be surprised to see the frequency go up within a few years. As Golfingboy mentioned TPE has already been announced and loaded (and it’s not even new – SFO-TPE has been suspended and restored several times since SARS). CAN is probably never going to happen – if I’m not mistaken UA first applied for it more than five years ago and even got approved, but never started due to the economic crisis. With the proximity to HKG (and high speed rail link to open fairly soon) and lack of connections (CAN is SkyTeam member China Southern’s hub) there’s probably less reason than ever to start SFO-CAN.

Christopher August 29, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Sichuan airlines actually has flight from Chengdu to Vancouver, but certainly this is the first flight I’ve heard of to the U.S.

I would expect this flight to do well with all of the people living in Sichuan and chongqing.

Only drawback is lack of feeder flights into Chengdu, pretty much only Chinese domestic.


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