Southeast Asian Carriers Face Mixed Fortunes Flying to the United States

Carriers across South East Asia have faced mixed fortunes in sustaining operations to the United States.  Whilst some have pulled out service altogether, others are not yet done expanding.

Singapore Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport
Image source: Wikimedia

Last year, Malaysia Airlines ended its Los Angeles flight via Tokyo.  It previously operated a flight to New York's Newark Airport via Stockholm, which ended in 2009.  The decision to end US flights came as a result of financial difficulties the Malaysian flag carrier already faced even before twin disasters of MH370 and MH17 struck it.

Thai Airways will bite the dust on its US service come October 25 2015.  By then it will end its flights to Los Angeles via Seoul.  Things were not always like this for Thaiand's flag carrier.  In the 1980s, it even had services to Seattle and Dallas.  It also attempted to fly nonstop from Bangkok to Los Angeles and New York in the mid-2000s.  These nonstop routes were operated using an Airbus A340-500 aircraft.  Rising fuel prices and a global economic downturn contributed to Thai Airways rolling back their New York and Los Angeles nonstop flights back in 2008 and 2012 respectively.  

However, not all is bad news for Southeast Asian carriers in these recent years.  In fact, Philippine Airlines has made good on its promise to expand its existing US operations.  Earlier this year, it reopened a Manila-New York flight flying four times a week.  Moreover, it will upgrade the aircraft used on that flight to a Boeing 777 later in the year.  Next year, the flag carrier will open a Cebu-Los Angeles flight, the first direct flight to the US mainland from the Visayas or Mindanao region.  These are all on top of existing services to Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Guam from Manila.  It is still uncertain how the Philippine's flag carrier will fare on these new routes, however it has previously hinted that it is not yet done with expansion as it considers flights to Chicago and cities in Florida.   

In addition, Singapore Airlines is holding steady on its existing flights to the US.  It currently serves San Francisco (via Hong Kong and Seoul), Los Angeles (via Tokyo), New York-JFK (via Frankfurt), and Houston (via Moscow).  It previously had the world's longest flight between Singapore and New York, as well as a nonstop flight between Singapore and Los Angeles.  Those flights were discontinued in 2013 amid high costs.  However, Singapore Airlines has not ruled out reinstating such flights in the future.

Carriers that are close enough to Southeast Asia have also showed their commitment to expanding flights to the US.  Passengers from Manila, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur can easily fly to Hong Kong or Taipei to catch a flight to the US and vice versa.   

For instance, Taiwan's EVA Airways launched a nonstop flight to Houston.  In addition to Houston, EVA Airways is expected to open a flight to Chicago next year.  The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) indicates that Southeast Asia is crucial to the Taiwanese carrier's success in the US market.  The Centre also says that it could benefit in Houston from strong demand on local traffic, cargo and its partnership with United, which has a hub in that city.  

Moreover, Cathay Pacific has also expanded its flights to the US.  Earlier this year, it launched a Hong Kong-Boston flight.  CAPA suggested that Hong Kong's flag carrier expected to benefit from US-China trade.  In addition, Cathay Pacific has a footing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York (both JFK and Newark Airport), and Chicago.  Whilst most Southeast Asian carriers rolled back services between their respective hubs and New York, Cathay has steadily increased its flights to New York (including one flight to Newark).  

Sources: CAPA 

17 comments:

  1. How can you miss the Korean money-makers? Asiana and Korean Air are the real favorites of people from Bangkok, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Hongkong!

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    1. Is South Korea part of Southeast Asia now?

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    2. You are right. South Korea is not part of South East Asia.
      However, the article is still flawed. Taiwan and Hong Kong are also not part of South East AsiaYou are right. South Korea is not part of South East Asia.
      However, the article is still flawed. Taiwan and Hong Kong are also not part of South East Asia, but were mention in the article., but were mention in the article.

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    3. Those countries are North Asia

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. The advantage of PAL in the US route is because of the Filipino community leaving in that country. Thats why they are so succesfull in that area among others.

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  3. Though Eva air (Taiwan) and the Korean airlines (Asiana and Korean Air) are not from South East Asia, they operate here in the Philippines (Manila and Cebu) and in the process can drive Pinoy traffic to the U.S. Most of their flights fares are very attractive to Pinoys even though they have to stop in Incheon, their fares are many occassions way cheaper while having superior flight experience and comfort compared to PAL. Also from the Philippines they connect to more U.S. cities via Korea stop. PAL have really to improve their on board experience and not just rely on our FA hospitality as the Korean FAs have this too and on many times much better than ours. Pricing is a major key for PAL as they have to lower this in the light of the Korean airlines and EVA Air's as Cathay pacific and JAL/ANA mostly have more expensive fares out of Philippines to the U.S.

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    1. Today, the lowest one way fare from LAX to MNL is from EVA Air with convenient 3-hour connection in Taipei. EVA utilizes B77 with 3-3-3- seating in economy class. EVA is a 4-star airline by world-renowned Skytrax. Check from your travel sites and post the lowest fare aside from EVA.....

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  4. EVA also has the lowest fares from Toronto to Manila and they use a B777 plane that has 3-3-3 configuration in economy

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    1. KE and OZ are neck to neck in their superior inflight services, I should know, I fly them alternatively year in and year out. They keep on offering snacks and juices; I am like a baby spoiled by these Korean crews! Good job boys and girls!

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    2. Eva Airways are cheaper yet some of their Flight Attendants are rude..

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    3. Exactly..especially those in Toronto to Taipei leg

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  5. Almost every other carrier has 3-3-3 configuration for the 777!
    3-4-3 configuration is not ideal!

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