A raft of US airlines has bombarded the Department of Transportation (DOT) with bid requests for new service rights, following the aviation agreement with China that will see six new routes awarded between now and 2009.
With China gearing up for the Olympic Games next year and an economy, that despite its government”s best dampening efforts, shows no sign of slowing down, US carriers are anxious to build on potentially lucrative destinations.
Specifically, Northwest has filed for Detroit-Shanghai/Beijing; United for San Francisco-Guangzhou and Los Angeles-Shanghai; US Airways for Philadelphia-Beijing, American for Chicago O”Hare-Beijing; Delta for Atlanta-Beijing/Shanghai and Continental for New York Newark-Shanghai.
A series of detailed submissions by all the carriers focuses on what benefits they believe will accrue, including Northwest”s proposal to use Boeing 787 aircraft as it becomes the first US carrier to launch the new aircraft. ”Northwest wants to bring new services to China just as soon as possible,” said president and CEO, Doug Steenland, adding: ”If the DOT wants to benefit the most US passengers and most US cities, we are the clear choice.”
United has a clear interest in serving new 777-operated routes to China, with San Francisco having the largest Chinese-American population in the US and Guangzhou being the third most populous city in China.
”Our East meets West proposal is simple ” add capacity to those urban areas with the least service and most pressing demand,” said United senior vice president, Michael Whitaker.
The US Airways submission highlights connectivity from 37 US cities into its Philadelphia hub and onwards to China ” the first time that air services would begin to Asia from the Philadelphia airport. Seven weekly return flights are envisaged using Airbus A340 aircraft, while connecting services from Charlotte would operate using 767 equipment.
Already flying the Chicago O”Hare-Shanghai route, American says it has garnered support from the political and business world for its proposed service to Beijing. ”As competition for international travellers increases among domestic carriers, passengers will be able to benefit from a decrease in ticket prices,” said Senator Dick Durbin. ”I will work with my colleagues from Illinois to support American.”
Continental is also stressing the large Asian and Chinese population in the New York area, while Delta has highlighted the advantages to Atlanta and Georgia”s business community.”
US sources indicate that a DOT decision will be made sometime in August. The DOT is evaluating a series of proposals as part of a US-China aviation agreement signed in July, 2004, that calls for a total of 195 new, weekly flights, phased in during a six-year period.