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Air China Worries Over U.S. Travel

Executive claims less approvals for American travel visas may result in reduced capacity.

Star Alliance partner Air China is concerned over under-capacity flights bound for the United States, claiming less approvals for travel visas could lead to a reduction in overall capacity. In an interview with Skift, airline North America Vice President Zhihang Chi claims that the problem surrounds both Chinese travelers coming to the United States and current Chinese citizens in the United States returning to the mainland and experiencing difficulty at customs.

While Air China does not have concrete information from the U.S. State Department on how many individuals have been denied, executives estimate that up to 16 percent of applicants are ultimately not allowed entry. Comparatively, the airline believes that under the previous presidential administration, that same denial rate was as low as 10 percent.

On the other side of the issue are those of Chinese descent living in the United States returning to China to visit friends or family. Executives believe that, from an anecdotal standpoint, flyers are avoiding Asian travel due to “immigration concerns” and statements from the White House. Potential solutions to the problem include reducing overall capacity to flights bound for America.

“If this continues, we will have to do something,” Chi told Skift. “We are a for-profit cooperation, and obviously we need to match supply with demand.”

While issues with visas and customs are discouraging travel to the United States, the executive said that travel to Europe continues to grow and Chinese travelers are often going west. Spokespersons from the State Department have not publicly commented on Chi’s statements.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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Transpacificflyer September 5, 2017

Perhaps the "under capacity " is due to Air China's awful ground service and onboard experience catching up with it. My last 5 hour flight on the airline in J was distinguished by rude transfer agents, inedible F&B, no IFE on a B777 and a PEK experience more stressful than a US hub airport. For reference sake, it would be interesting to know if Hainan or China Southern have the same issue.

dvs7310 August 31, 2017

Sounds like he's doing a lot of whining because denial rates are rising for his own people. Air China carries a significant amount of connecting passengers to other countries in the region. The price themselves to heavily undercut most other carriers, both from Asia to the USA and from the USA to Asia. Many other countries in the region are Visa Waiver countries for the USA so he needs not worry about losing those passengers.