Why United Airlines is big part of state’s push to East Asian companies

Economic development officials say multitude of flights (many of which are nonstop) to multitude of East Asian airports is selling point for state

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Throughout the first week of the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission, Gov. Phil Murphy repeatedly has said the state’s talented workforce, great schools and progressive values make New Jersey a great place to relocate your business.

Here’s another key reason: The ease of ability to fly to Newark from various destinations in Asia.

United Airlines has 14 weekly roundtrips from Newark Liberty International Airport to Asia — including daily flights to both Tokyo airports: Narita International and Haneda. In fact, more than 60 members of this week’s delegation flew nonstop to Tokyo-Haneda.

United, in fact, has more seats to Japan from the New York City metro area than any other airline.

Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said it’s a data point he quotes regularly as a selling point for business.

“It’s hugely important,” he said. “It’s not just the global connectivity of Newark, which is great, there also is the network of Greater New Jersey: Newark, JFK, La Guardia and Philadelphia. You can get pretty much anywhere, straight shot.”

Ken Kiriyama, director of Japan and Micronesia sales for United, said the company has prioritized the Asian rim.

“In addition to the Japan market, we are growing in other Asian markets, as well,” he said, noting routes to Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore. In most cases, there will be two flights daily. And, soon, United will be the first airline to have a nonstop from the mainland to the Philippines.

And, while those flights won’t necessarily be nonstops from Newark (the often require a stop in San Francisco), Kiriyama said the airline’s commitment to Newark can be seen through the upgraded gates, lounges and concourses.

Wes Mathews, the CEO of Choose New Jersey, said overall effort that United makes from Newark is easy to sell.

“We have a chart about global connectivity,” he said. “It’s basically hundreds of points that emanate from Newark to all around the world. It’s so helpful when we’re making a pitch on the area to a company.”

Sullivan agrees — noting again that “the area” means more than Newark.

“That global connectivity and that density of opportunity is really important,” he said. “But it’s that redundancy and reliability of that which is critical in the Northeast.

“If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and flights to Seattle are shut down, where are you going to go?”

Kiriyama said all the data points go back to a key premise: A good airport — and a good carrier — are key economic development pluses.

“It goes back to our core belief of connecting people and uniting the world,” he said. “To the extent we can go beyond that, growing the economy, growing opportunities and, most importantly, growing sustainable innovation, is a plus.”