United Airlines Wednesday said it would expand its service in Asia, adding new flights between Nagoya, Japan, and Taipei, Taiwan.

United, a unit of UAL Corp. (search) , said it also would expand service between Chicago and Hong Kong and upgrade to larger aircraft on its Chicago-Beijing summer service. The No. 2 U.S. carrier, which has been in bankruptcy since December 2002, said demand for passenger and cargo service to the region has increased significantly over the last few months.

The new and upgraded services will begin in April, the aft are part of United's strategy to expand its international service.

Major U.S. airlines, facing intense competition from low-cost carriers within the United States, are shifting their focus to international routes in search of profits.

Continental Airlines (CAL) and American Airlines (AMR) on Tuesday won tentative U.S. government approval to offer flights to China, the first such award for direct passenger service in two decades.

United and Northwest Airlines (NWAC) are the only other U.S. passenger carriers offering service to China.