China Airlines Set To Significantly Increase New York JFK Presence

  • China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-409 (F) (2)

    China Airlines

    IATA / ICAO Code:
    CI / CAL

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub (s):
    Taoyuan International Airport

    Year Founded:
    1959

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    Airline Group:
    China Airlines Group

    CEO:
    Hsieh Shih-Chen

    Country:
    Republic of China

China Airlines has put on sale regular, scheduled flights from Taipei to New York JFK, starting this October. Don’t misunderstand. The Taiwanese carrier has served JFK for decades and has had infrequent flights since the pandemic. After operating 1x monthly last year, it paused in September. Flights resumed last month, and it’s currently served 2x monthly.

What’s happening?

China Airlines will fly Taipei to JFK 3x weekly from October 1st, rising to 4x weekly from May 30th, the pre-pandemic frequency. (It had scheduled 4x weekly from October, but only 3x is bookable.)

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The return of normal service on the route comes after a 31-month absence. It’ll use four-class, 358-seat B777-300ERs. These have 40 in business class, 62 in premium economy, and 256 in economy (including 30 in economy family couch). The type’s also great for freight. The schedule is as follows, with all times local:

  • Taipei to JFK: CI12, 17: 30-20: 35, arriving the same day (block time 15h 5m); from October 1st
  • JFK to Taipei: CI11, 01: 35-05: 20 + 1; (15h 45m); from October 2nd

Looking at North America in the first week of October, China Airlines will also have 10x weekly passenger services to Los Angeles (6x weekly B777-300ER, 4x A350-900), 1x daily to Ontario (B777-300ER), 1x daily to San Francisco, and 1x daily to Vancouver (A350-900). (It has scheduled 3x weekly Honolulu, but it’s not bookable.) Adding JFK, it’ll have 34 weekly flights – just one fewer than in the same week in 2019. But will it happen as planned?


China Airlines’ North America passenger network. Image: GCMap.

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It’s hard to travel to Taiwan

While October is a while away, most foreign nationals are currently banned from traveling to Taiwan, with a special permit needed for others. Most who can travel must have a PCR test on departure, although some, including transit passengers, no longer need one.

All those with Taiwan as their destination must have a PCR test on arrival and quarantine. It’s therefore still costly, complicated, and uncertain to travel to Taiwan. Let’s hope it eases as October nears, or China Airlines may push back its resumption.

Los Angeles will still be China Airlines’ leading North America destination, not surprisingly given it’s the leading city for diaspora. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Simple Flying is at the Farnborough Airshow this week. For all the latest news from the show, click here.

A look at its Taipei-JFK operation

Passenger-wise, China Airlines served Taipei-JFK for years, often via Anchorage or Osaka (April 2011-September 2014) and sometimes nonstop. In the 32 years since 1990, it has seen the B747SP, B747-200, MD-11, B747-400, and A340-300.


While the long, 7,808-mile (12,566km) route from Asia had nonstop flights by the A340-300 for four months in 2004 (it proved unsuccessful and resumed via Anchorage), it has been nonstop since October 2014, initially by the B747- 400 and thereafter by the B777-300ER.

In 2019, the last normal year, it had 4x weekly flights. Department of Transportation data shows it carried 120,455 passengers and had a seat load factor of 84.6%, its highest ever. Where did its JFK passengers go? There’s little point looking at 2020 or 2021 passenger traffic figures as the pandemic heavily skews them.

As such, it’s worth returning to 2019. Booking data suggests that around 55% of passengers were point-to-point (they flew only between Taipei and JFK), while 40% transited Taipei. They mainly traveled to / from Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Yangon, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Singapore, Denpasar-Bali, and Fukuoka.


Have you flown China Airlines long-haul? If so, share your experiences in the comments.

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