Last week, the US Department of Transportation granted American Airlines six additional months to begin their LAX – Beijing (PEK) flight. That’s shorter than the one year American was asking for in their request which said that the Chinese government and Beijing refuse to grant them commercially viable slots. Meanwhile, Delta had placed another bid for the route after American said they would not be able to commence the route prior to the March 16th deadline. That bid was rejected by the DOT.
“When we selected American’s Los Angeles-Beijing proposal, we did so because we concluded that American’s proposal would provide greater enhancements to competition and service than selection of Delta and would thereby maximize public benefits. The Department recognizes that, in granting an extension of the start-up deadline, the benefits of American’s service might be somewhat delayed. On balance, however, we have determined that such a delay, resulting from American’s inability to obtain commercially viable slots from the Chinese authorities, does not warrant the carrier’s loss of authority and the resultant loss of those public benefits that formed the basis of our selection decision.”
Back in November, the US DOT selected American over Delta and awarded the airline the right to operate a daily flight from LAX to Beijing (PEK). However, American says it’s been unable to actually obtain takeoff and landing slots from the Chinese government…even ones at midnight and in the wee hours of the morning.
— Ghim-Lay Yeo 杨锦丽 (@ghimlay) January 30, 2017
In retaliation, American filed an objection with the US DOT, asking them to block the renewal of Air China’s authorization on Beijing (PEK) – Houston (IAH). The objection lists “the failure of the Civil Aviation Administration of China to make commercially viable slots at Chinese airports available to American and other U.S. carriers on a reciprocal basis.”
“Even though American was recently awarded the U.S.-China frequencies and necessary exemption authority from the (DOT) to inaugurate Los Angeles-Beijing service, American cannot serve this route without slots in Beijing,” American wrote. “To date, the (Civil Aviation Administration of China) has refused to provide any slots to allow American to exercise its bilaterally conferred rights.”
American alleges that the Chinese government is helping Air China maintain a monopoly on nonstop service between LAX and PEK.
According to Dallas News, United is experiencing similar difficulties at Shanghai (PVG).