Houston-Asia air traffic takes off, experiences unprecedented growth

May 15, 2015 11:40 am 

HOUSTON, May 13 — Since Air China began nonstop service between Houston and Beijing on July 11, 2013, several airlines have inaugurated or planned flights between the United States' fourth largest city and business centers throughout Asia.

The Houston-Beijing flights, which Air China began to run daily on March 28, 2014, created even more demand for air service between Asia and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which had previously been an almost untapped market in Houston.

"The Asian market has been historically under-served. In 2012, Houston had only one nonstop daily flight to Asia, United Airlines to Tokyo," Molly Waits, director of Air Service Development for Houston Airport System, told Xinhua recently.

Air China initially operated four Houston-Beijing flights per week, the first North American expansion by the airline in three decades, but strong demand from business and tourist customers created the drive to increase the number of flights just eight months later.

Waits said EVA Air will initiate non-stop flights between Taipei and Houston on June 19. The airline will begin the new service with three flights a week, but already has plans to increase to four on July 1.

The route will allow passengers to fly from the southwestern region of the United States to Taipei and, with one stop, connect onward to major destinations throughout Asia, including mainland China.

Japan's leading airline, ANA, plans to connect tokyo and Houston with nonstop air service beginning in June, while Korean Air began its daily nonstop service between Houston and Seoul on May 2.

According to a 2014 year-end traffic report, George Bush Intercontinental Airport saw its highest passenger totals in its 46-year history, with record highs in both combined passenger totals — more than 41.2 million in both domestic and international passengers, a 3.6 percent increase — and in the number of international passengers — more than 9.8 million, a 9.2 percent increase from 8.9 million in 2013.

"International flights are increasing to the Houston market, and passenger traffic has increased by 12 percent over the past three years," Waits said. "In the past several years, Houston has welcomed great international expansion. Houston has had the growth needed to meet demand for nonstop flights to and from Asia."

The traffic between Houston and Asia, Waits said, includes business travel, leisure or tourism travel, and travel for visiting friends and relatives.

"Specifically, the strength of the Houston economy, and the demand for nonstop air service to key world regions have driven the growth in the Asian market," Waits said. "The Asian market was historically under-served, and the services now offered by Air China, Korean Air, All Nippon Airways, EVA Air and United Airlines now serve the Asian market very well." (PNA/Xinhua)

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