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United Airlines Set to Return to Hong Kong in January

The carrier plans to resume nonstop flights between Hong Kong and the U.S. after more than two years

by Fergus Cole

October 13, 2022

City of Hong Kong, China / Photo: Huang yi fei/Shutterstock

United Airlines is expected to resume direct flights to Hong Kong in January 2023, making it the first U.S. carrier to fly to the city since 2020.

The airline plans to reinstate its service to Hong Kong as the city-state slowly opens up to tourists after years of restrictions. Last month, Hong Kong removed the requirement for incoming foreign passengers to quarantine, which lasted for as long as three weeks at the height of the COVID pandemic.

Passenger flights to the east Asian city have largely been suspended since the pandemic began over two years ago. Cathay Pacific is currently the only passenger airline still to offer nonstop routes between the U.S and Hong Kong.

United had only flown cargo flights to the city since its passenger routes were suspended in early February 2020. Meanwhile, American Airlines has confirmed that the suspension of its Dallas and Los Angeles routes to Hong Kong is permanent.

Although nonstop flights to Hong Kong are expected to be resumed by United in January, an exact date hasn’t yet been confirmed. According to Koji Nagata, a spokesperson for United, the airline is “currently examining market demand and the operational environment to decide whether it is appropriate for us to restart flying operations to Hong Kong.”

Even though Chicago-based United is the only American carrier planning to resume flights to Hong Kong, several other major international airlines have recently announced plans to increase their services to the city. This includes Singapore Airlines, which will increase its number of flights to Hong Kong from the end of October, and British Airways, which will return to the city in December.

Photo: Hong Kong International Airport – Dynamic Wang / Unsplash

However, Cathay Pacific—Hong Kong’s flag carrier—has said it doesn’t expect foreign visitor numbers to reach pre-pandemic levels for at least another two years. Just last week, Virgin Atlantic announced it was ending its Hong Kong service after three decades, becoming the second major airline after American Airlines permanently axing its routes to the city.

United, however, seems to be more optimistic about an increase in passenger demand as the world finally moves away from COVID restrictions. As well as Hong Kong, the airline has recently announced the addition of numerous transatlantic routes from next year, including London-Heathrow, Paris, Rome, and Dubai.