United Airlines plans to resume Hong Kong flights as early as January, becoming one of just a few major airlines to resume passenger flights to the city, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since the pandemic began.
The Chicago-based carrier is considering resuming service from San Francisco in the new year, according to sources who declined to be identified because the discussions are private.
The discussions come after Hong Kong removed compulsory hotel quarantine for inbound visitors last month, ending over two and a half years of restrictions that had left the once-thriving Asian centre devoid of tourists. At the height of the pandemic, obligatory quarantine lasted three weeks, and admission was restricted to Hong Kong residents for an extended period.
Cathay Pacific has been the only airline operating nonstop flights between Hong Kong and the United States during the pandemic. After American Airlines Group Inc. permanently suspended its services from Dallas and Los Angeles, United will be the lone US carrier operating to Hong Kong.
United suspended passenger flights to Hong Kong on 8 February 2020 and has generally flown cargo-only flights in and out of the city thereafter, except for a brief revival in July 2020 that lasted only one day.
United Airlines spokesperson Koji Nagata stated that the company is “currently examining market demand and the operational environment to decide whether it is appropriate for us to restart flying operations to Hong Kong.”
In recent weeks, several international carriers announced service increases to Hong Kong, including Singapore Airlines, which will increase flights to three times daily from two beginning at the end of October, and All Nippon Airways Co., which will add Tokyo Haneda services to complement its Narita connections to Hong Kong.
British Airways confirmed the return of flights in December two weeks ago, after repeatedly pushing back the date.