Aviation United and Air China to work more closely By Robert Silk / March 28, 2016 Share 1 -- United Airlines is extending and strengthening its partnership with Air China.Under the multi-year joint strategic initiative announced by the Star Alliance partners, the airlines plan to expand connecting flight opportunities and enhance frequent-flyer opportunities for customers. They also plan to create a more seamless experience for customers traveling through United’s China gateway, San Francisco, and through Air China’s Beijing hub. And, the initiative will include expanding the carriers’ joint marketing efforts.United currently serves Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu from San Francisco. It will add routes to Xian and Hangzhou later this year. United described the new agreement as much more than a codeshare arrangement. “The agreement is designed to help evolve and strengthen our relationship to better serve our mutual customers and elevate the customer experience,” the airline said.The agreement stops short of being a joint venture, however, in which airlines can coordinate flight schedules. Regulators don’t currently allow joint ventures between U.S. and Chinese carriers.