The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has provisionally awarded American Airlines traffic rights for seven weekly flights between Los Angeles and Beijing.
Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines and American had applied for the seven available frequencies under the US-China Air Services Agreement which would have been used for daily Beijing – Los Angeles return services using B777-200ER equipment. Both routes were to start on December 16.
Because of the similarities between the two requests, the DOT said its decision was based on its desire to increase competition and variety on the US West Coast-China market.
It said that Delta already serves Beijing via its Seattle hub and United serves the Chinese city from its San Francisco hub and VI’s codeshare with Air China from Los Angeles.
As such, American’s win was also based on the fact that in addition to it lacking a West Coast gateway for own-aircraft service to Beijing, it will also funnel traffic into its proposed Los Angeles-Beijing service from 24 cities around the US.
“The Department tentatively finds that the potential benefits of selecting American, and thereby adding a third U.S. competitor to the West Coast-Beijing market, outweigh the benefits that would be achieved through selection of Delta,” it said. “American’s clear advantage in terms of U.S. connecting points would enhance both service and competition, and thereby maximize public benefits more than would an award to Delta.”
All parties concerned have until November 23 to submit their comments to the DOT ahead of the finalization of the order.