Carrier sees Ontario as Southern California’s new gateway to Asia.
ONTARIO, CALIF. – The historic event was more than a year in the making. Local officials visited Taiwan and China Airlines executives visited Ontario. Negotiations were held and information was exchanged. Agreements were signed between airports and local governments. Flight schedules were announced and, when customer demand was even stronger than anticipated, expanded.
With all the pieces in place, Ontario International Airport (ONT) welcomed the arrival of China Airlines #CI24 from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), marking the start of Ontario's first non-stop, transoceanic passenger service.
"We welcome China Airlines, its passengers and crew members with open arms," said Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority. "This is a great day for aviation in Southern California as China Airlines begins service between Taiwan and Ontario.
"We have worked tirelessly for more than a year to gain the confidence of Chairman Nuan-Hsuan Ho and his leadership team and we look forward to maintaining a lasting relationship that benefits us all. We have the know-how, determination and community support to help China Airlines achieve success at Ontario."
"Extensive studies and assessments carried out by China Airlines have now finally paid off," said China Airlines Chairman Nuan-Hsuan Ho. "The launch of the Taoyuan – Ontario route will tap into the market for travel between Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau among eastern Los Angeles' Chinese community. China Airlines has now set its sights on the market for travel between Greater Los Angeles and Southeast Asia. The new route will expand options for travel to and from Asia for metropolitan Los Angeles as a whole, fostering closer Taiwan-U.S. ties as well as strengthening links with the Asia market."
China Airlines, which increased flight frequency from four to seven days a week in response to strong customer interest, is marketing Ontario as Southern California's new gateway to Asia, a reflection of how far the airport has come since its transfer to local control in November 2016.
It is remarkable, Wapner noted, that this momentous event occurred in less than 18 months, and now other major carriers are taking note of Ontario's new status as a global gateway. Already, other airlines are considering ONT for additional routes to China and new service to Europe.
TPE is the primary International gateway airport for the New Taipei–Keelung–Taoyuan City metro area, with more than 9 million residents, while ONT is the closest and most convenient international airport for more than 10 million Southern California residents in the Inland Empire, northern Orange County, and eastern Los Angeles County.
More than 4.5 million passengers traveled through ONT last year, a 7% increase over 2016 and its best year since 2010. China Airlines projects 80,000 passengers on the new ONT-TPE route in the first year.
China Airlines' inaugural flight arrived on time at 1:20 p.m. (PDT) with 298 passengers and crew aboard and was greeted by a water cannon salute and a "Blessing from 3 Princes" celebration. The return flight, #CI23, departed ONT at 3:45 p.m. with 338 passengers and crew members.
The carrier serves the new route with Boeing 777-300ER wide-body aircraft equipped with 358 seats, including 40 in Premium Business Class and 62 in Premium Economy Class.
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