The U.S.-based airline Dynamic Airways has started weekly charter service between Changsha, China, and Los Angeles (LAX) with an intermediate stop in Anchorage. Soon, Alaskans may be able to board the flights for nonstop service to China and Los Angeles, according to Paul Kraus, Dynamic Air's CEO.
"Our hope is that most of the seats will be sold to Chinese tour groups, but we'll always have a few seats," said Kraus.
The airline's inaugural flight with 217 Chinese travelers on board passed through Anchorage Sunday. All of the travelers aboard the Boeing 767 aircraft continued on to Los Angeles. According to Oliver Hao, Dynamic Air's country manager in China, the first 15 flights between now and March 27, 2015 are reserved for Chinese tour groups. "We plan to change to twice-weekly scheduled service starting in April," Hao wrote in an email.
Changsha is the largest city in China's Hunan province, with more than 7 million people.
"We plan to serve two or three cities in China by June or July," Kraus said during his visit to Anchorage on Sunday. "Then we aim to continue on to cities like New York and Washington, D.C., offering nonstop service from Anchorage.
"We would like to have a base here in Anchorage," he added.
Kraus did not disclose prices for the flights. Currently, the weekly flights between Changsha and Los Angeles are operated as charter flights. The ability to sell individual tickets and to offer regularly-scheduled flights hinges on approval by Chinese aviation authorities.
The Changsha airport is one of several in China offering cash incentives to airlines that will offer nonstop service to the U.S. Nearby Wuhan Airport serves a city of more than 10 million. Recently, China Southern Airlines agreed to start flying to San Francisco on Boeing 787s from Wuhan. The flights start in Guangzhou (near Hong Kong), then stop in Wuhan before continuing to San Francisco.
John Parrott, director of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said part of Anchorage's allure to an airline like Dynamic Airways is how quickly travelers can process through Customs and Immigration. "We processed everyone on the plane in 58 minutes," he said. "They can't do that in Los Angeles."
"Our business model at Dynamic Airways is to offer point-to-point flights to underserved markets," said Kraus.
Dynamic Airways, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, operates charter flights between Beijing and the U.S. island of Guam. In the eastern U.S., Dynamic Airways flies between New York's JFK Airport and Georgetown, Guyana and between Orlando, Florida and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. All flights are served with Boeing 767s.