United Airlines has been cited in the media that it has nearly given up on his expansion plans for India and instead is focusing on boosting its presence in China where it already is the largest U.S. carrier operating in terms of number of weekly frequencies.
It is doing this by focusing its China strategy around the B787 aircraft and its SFO hub on the U.S. West Coast as the ideal strategic location.
UA should not give up totally on India expansion as there is a way in which it can boost its presence by operating to Bangalore via Hong Kong on a daily basis.
Currently, UA has 1 B777 + 1 B744 parked at HKG for 17 hours each daily operating from ORD (B777) + SFO (B744). These flights arrive into HKG between 1800-1830 and depart back between 1130-1145 the next day.
BLR-HKG is a 5 hour 30 minute flight each way and UA should seriously consider using the B777 that originates from ORD to fly to BLR via HKG for which it also has 5th freedom traffic rights. In the past UA used to operate HKG-DEL with 5th freedom rights hence getting permission for HKG-BLR should not be a big issue with a little bit of political influence.
The schedule would look like this:
UA 895 Dep ORD 1310 Arr HKG 1810
UA 895 Dep HKG 2010 Arr BLR 2315
UA 896 Dep BLR 0120 Arr HKG 0940
UA 896 Dep HKG 1140 Arr ORD 1345
The above mentioned schedule allows excellent connections to SFO for BLR via HKG in both directions on UA as UA 869 lands into HKG at 1840 on a daily basis and departs back to SFO the next day at 1130 (US 862) hence offering a quick 90-120 minute transit maximum for SFO passengers to connect on to the BLR service.
The market demand is there too for UA to tap into which was as follows in 2014 (round trip pax):
In addition to the above markets, the schedule that I have proposed for UA also enables it to feed Seoul and Tokyo via Hong Kong conveniently with fellow STAR members i.e. ANA + Asiana. The demand from BLR to ICN was 17,000 where as NRT was 28,000 with neither cities seeing currently nonstop service to BLR as pax have to fly CX/SQ/TG only to get there.
With fuel prices being $40-50 a barrel it offers an attractive proposition for UA to seriously consider from IATA S16 season onwards as its market share to India is getting rapidly taken away from the Middle East carriers + CX/BA/LH !