Bidding Begins for Expanded China Air Routes

Six new routes will be awarded by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to become operational between 2007 and 2009. Long term, the agreement between China and the US will more than double commercial passenger flights by 2010 and create unlimited cargo flights between the two countries. DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters estimates that the new pact signed on July 9, will create $5 billion in passenger and cargo revenues for the airline industry over the next six years.

Those applying for the new routes include Continental Airlines that wants to begin operation of a daily flight from Newark to Shanghai that would originate in Cleveland. In arguing for its routes, Continental claims, “The new route will serve the large Asian and Chinese American population residing in the New York City/Newark area and the largest population base in the US in which passengers have been forced to use connecting flights or less-than-daily foreign carrier service.” It also noted that Ohio is home to 60 of the Fortune 1000 companies and Cleveland is home to such Fortune 100 companies as Goodyear Tire and Rubber, International Steel Group and Sherwin Williams.

Delta Airlines had previously filed to begin service between Atlanta and Shanghai. It has expanded that application to cover a daily flight to Beijing. “Both routes would fill a critical gap in air service for the 65 million residents of the US Southeast who currently lack nonstop air service to China,” notes the airline.

American Airlines is asking for authority to fly from Chicago O'Hare to Beijing beginning on March 25, 2009. It points out that “73 cities in 29 states and the District of Columbia will benefit from nonstop-to-nonstop service to Beijing connecting via O'Hare.”

United Airlines subsidiary of UAL Corp. is proposing flights between San Francisco and Guangzhou beginning in 2008 and between Los Angeles and Shanghai to start in 2009.

US Airways had previously applied to operate service from Philadelphia to Shanghai to begin in 2008. It has now expanded its application to include daily service from Philadelphia to Beijing, originating in Charlotte in March 2009. The airline's CEO, Doug Parker, says, “With our commitment to grow our international presence through new markets, new aircraft acquisitions and our already strong presence in the US-Europe market, US Airways is well positioned to take the next step with service to China.”

Also filing for two daily flights is Northwest Airlines that would operate the nonstops from Detroit to Shanghai and Detroit to Beijing. Northwest's president and CEO, Doug Steenland, claims “Northwest's WorldGateway hub at Detroit offers an unmatched combination of broad network coverage of the entire eastern half of the United States, convenient direct routings and a new, state-of-the-art terminal facility.”

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