United Airlines to relaunch the SFO-PVG "Apple Shuttle"

After a prolonged bitter dispite, the U.S. and China recently came to an agreement to allow for four weekly flights between the countries for their carriers.  With the agreement, Delta resumed flying to Shanghai (PVG) yesterday from Seattle via Seoul, and plans to fly from Detroit to PVG also via Seoul.  And United just announced that starting July 8, they will resume 2x weekly flights for their SFO-PVG route, which has been dubbed the "Apple Shuttle".  The flights will be on United's flagship B777-300ER, which features United's Polaris seats in business class.
UA 857San FranciscoWeds., Sat.11:00 a.m.Shanghai5:45 p.m.+1 day
UA 858ShanghaiThurs., Sun.9:40 p.m.San Francisco8:55 p.m.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple was United's largest corporate customer, with annual proceeds coming in at $150 million.  Unsurprisingly, the bulk of that was out of SFO as it's close to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino.  And since most of Apple's suppliers and manufacturers are in Shanghai, a quarter of total company spending with United was exclusively on the SFO-PVG route.  Doing the math, Apple had contributed $37.5 million annually on the "Apple Shuttle", which amounts to 50 daily business class seats.

The relaunched "Apple Shuttle" will feature the United B777-300ER's flagship Polaris seats in business class

United has wanted to resume flying to China as early as April, but of course this wasn't going to happen both due to health and political issues.  Even now, the Apple Shuttle will be mostly relegated to U.S. residents as the U.S. State Department has a continued ban on non-residents entering the U.S. who have been to China.  So it's somewhat of a surprise that United expects demand to be high enough to justify flying 2x weekly B777 instead of their smaller and more efficient B787.

Quick thoughts

Whereas it's nice to see some of these popular routes get back onto their feet, the road (or skies) to recovery is a long ways off.  And even with eased restrictions, it may still not be the best idea to be flying as we've seen an uptick in hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases.  Nonetheless, United and Delta are both trying to make some headwind in connecting the two countries.

From all of us at Flying for Fitness, please stay healthy during this trying time.  We hope you enjoyed this post.  Please consider visiting one of our sponsors by clicking on the advertisements.  Our sponsors pay us for customer visits and help us to keep the lights on.  Thanks!


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