[photopress:airlines.jpg,full,alignright]There are at least seven American airlines who want new nonstop routes from Los Angeles International Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. Note that this route is served by Chinese carriers but these are not the airlines of choice for international customers who make up the major percentage of passengers.
United Airlines, the largest carrier flying out of Los Angeles is making a bid to start nonstop service to Shanghai in 2009 and many frequent flyers are supporting it in its bid. Chicago-based United faces stiff competition from other major domestic carriers who have proposed different city routes.
Los Angeles is being pitted against cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta.
At stake is an estimated $200 million in annual revenue that a U.S.-China route can bring to an American carrier. Also, the number of U.S. passengers flying to China has been growing 10% annually for the last several years. That, according to IATA, is twice the growth rate of any other transpacific traffic.
George Hamlin, managing director of aviation consulting firm Airline Capital Associates , said, ‘China is considered the next big thing. Nobody wants to be left behind.’
U.S. airlines currently operate only seven nonstop flights to China. In addition, Northwest Airlines. has three connecting flights via Tokyo, and dozens of other connecting flights to China are offered by Asian carriers such as Korean Air or Asiana Airlines.
Under a U.S.-China pact reached in May, U.S. carriers will be allowed to operate six new nonstop flights to China over the next three years: one this year, another next year and four more in 2009.
The decision as to which airline this will be is up to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The last U.S. carrier to win a route to China was United when it began daily nonstop service in March between Beijing and Washington. And United already operates a direct California-to-China route, from San Francisco to Shanghai.
Delta Air Lines, which wants to offer a direct flight from Atlanta to Beijing, has argued to federal officials that giving United another nonstop flight to China would weaken competition. But, given the stakes, any airline would argue anything.
[photopress:arnold_schwarzenegger_big_1.jpg,full,alignleft]For example United states it has the backing of the California congressional delegation and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, (seen in our illustration in his pumped-up prime) who wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters that said United’s nonstop service would boost tourism and ‘pump up our state’s economy.’ And no one is more expert than Arnold Schwarzenegger on pumping up.
China’s three largest state-owned carriers – China Eastern, Air China and China Southern Airlines – currently operate nonstop service between the two countries, but none of those flights appears to be profitable.
Luo Zhuping, an executive director of the company said that for China Eastern, the Los Angeles-Shanghai route isn’t much of a moneymaker. He said, ‘The main reason is that we don’t have many business guests. Most of our guests are Chinese people and our ticket prices couldn’t go up.’
This might change if there were better inflight service and if the airline’s on time record was better. In a battle for passengers on a long distance route quality counts.
Source: LA Times