United will start daily flights to Guangzhou in June

United Airlines said Tuesday it will launch its San Francisco-Guangzhou service on June 18, becoming the first U.S. carrier to offer daily nonstop service to the major manufacturing center and port on China's Pearl River.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Chicago's United Airlines the coveted route on Sept. 25. It is part of an agreement signed with China in July to double the number of daily flights between the United States and China during the next five years.

In September, United set the service launch for March 25. When asked about the delay, United spokesman Jeffrey Kovick said, "There are many operational issues to sort out."

The flight from San Francisco to Guangzhou, about 75 miles northwest of Hong Kong, will be UA865, departing at 12:35 p.m. and arriving at 6 p.m. the next day. The flight from Guangzhou will be UA868, departing at 11 a.m. and arriving at San Francisco at 9 a.m. The aircraft will be a Boeing 777.

United said the route is expected to provide about 15 tons of cargo capacity per flight.

Among the commodities likely to be carried from Guangzhou, the airline said in a statement, are "electronic components, integrated circuits, printers, machinery and machine tools, and apparel. Other items include time-sensitive cargo such as perishables, pharmaceuticals and temperature-controlled products."

United also operates daily flights from San Francisco to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Glenn Tilton, United Airlines' chief executive, said in a statement, "United's successful bid for this route authority would not have been possible without the broad base of support from officials, customers and our employees who understand the economic importance of this route."