Peters also proposed awards for four new daily flights to begin in 2009: American Airlines for Chicago-Beijing service, Continental Airlines for Newark-Shanghai service, Northwest Airlines for Detroit-Shanghai service, and US Airways for Philadelphia-Beijing service. Final decisions of these proposed awards will be made in the near future after further public comment.An article in Aviation Week about the new China routes notes that United, Delta and Northwest had argued for an additional weekly flight, but they were all unsuccessful. Maxjet's application for the 2009 new entrant award also was denied.
Secretary Peters said the announcement today is the result of an agreement signed in July with the Chinese government to open up airways between the two countries and double the number of daily flights allowed between the U.S. and China over the next five years. The agreement also allows for new cargo flights operating to and from the U.S. and China.
By increasing competition, allowing more flight options, and reducing costly stops and layovers, these new direct routes are expected to lower fares and increase convenience for both business and leisure passengers to travel to China, Secretary Peters said.
In addition to awarding the new routes, the DOT also changed existing rules regarding their sale or transfer. Previously, airlines had been prohibited from selling or transfering their routes to another carrier for a period of one year after the award. The DOT announced that it is extending this restriction to five years, however the new five-year rule would not apply apply in the case of airline mergers or acquisitions.