Xiamen Air Resumes Direct Flights to JFK, Challenges US Carriers with Russian Airspace Access

By Ivan PetrenkoApr 23, 2024 04:30 AMNews
Planes on dock during daytime
Planes on dock during daytime. Source: unsplash

Xiamen Air is set to reestablish its direct flight service from Fuzhou to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport starting this May, marking the return of one of the airline's most significant routes that was suspended during the pandemic. The Chinese airline plans to operate this route with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner twice weekly, catering to the substantial Chinese American community in the greater New York City area.

The route between Fuzhou Changle International Airport and JFK, covering over 7,770 miles, is one of the longest direct services offered at JFK. It was initially launched in 2017 but was paused due to reduced travel demand and flight restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. As travel restrictions ease and with an increased cap on flights between the U.S. and China, Xiamen Air is taking the opportunity to reinitiate this lucrative long-haul service.

The flight is set to become one of the lengthiest out of the U.S., requiring more than 16 hours of travel time. This places it alongside the notable New York to Singapore route in terms of duration. The service will resume with flight MF849 departing from Fuzhou at 10:40, touching down in New York at 13:15 local time. The return flight, MF850, will leave JFK at 15:15 and will last over 16 hours, arriving in Fuzhou at 19:30 the next day.

A contentious issue accompanying this resumption is the advantage Chinese carriers have by accessing Russian airspace, a route currently unavailable to American carriers due to geopolitical restrictions. This access significantly shortens flights from China to the U.S., providing a competitive edge over American counterparts like Delta, United, and American Airlines, who face longer, more costly routes.

The increase in flights from 35 to 50 weekly between the two nations has seen Chinese airlines quickly maximize their allocations, while U.S. carriers have not fully utilized theirs, currently operating only 31 weekly flights. This dynamic has led to concerns among U.S. airlines about competitive disadvantages and the implications for future route planning and profitability in East Asian markets.

As Xiamen Air gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the airline continues to expand its global footprint, evidenced by its recent codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways and the launch of new services to Doha. The re-launch of the JFK route represents a strategic move to capture the demand of international travelers and strengthen its position in the global aviation market.

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