China's Hainan Airlines expects to launch flights to a fourth North American destination in mid-2014.
The new destination will be a gateway city on the US east coast, says the carrier's executive director Joel Chusid at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Baltimore today.
Chusid declines to name the destination pending a formal announcement by the carrier, but points out that Chinese authorities have made exemptions to their usual rule of allowing only one Chinese carrier to serve on each international route. Hainan serves Seattle, Chicago and Toronto non-stop from Beijing.
Hainan has already applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for approval of the new route, he adds.
The only US east coast city served by Chinese carriers is New York John F. Kennedy, which Air China and China Eastern Airlines operate to from Beijing and Shanghai respectively. Hainan has its main hub at Beijing.
Capacity on US-China routes have grown substantially in recent years. Air China's vice-president and general manager for North American Chi Zhihang says that the airline's capacity in this market will grow by about 50% this year.
The airline launched flights to Houston in July and Chi says that the route has proven to be a success. He attributes the growth in demand in the US-China market to an easing in the process of Chinese travellers securing visas to visit the USA.
Air China will launch thrice weekly non-stop service to Honolulu from January 2014, adding the carrier's sixth North American destination.