Tuesday, March 14, 2017

DOT grants American’s request to delay LA-Beijing route launch

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted American Airlines’ request to delay the start of its proposed Los Angeles-Beijing service until Sept. 16.

The move gives American six months to secure commercially viable slots at Beijing, but denies its request for a one-year extension. Dallas/Fort Worth-based American had argued for a one-year extension if it was not able to get commercially viable slot times from China’s civil aviation regulator.

The DOT’s notice bats aside a complaint from Delta Air Lines. Atlanta-based Delta in February said it could secure slots through its partner China Eastern Airlines, and should therefore be awarded the Los Angeles-Beijing route authority. Delta argued that at the very least DOT should name Delta as the backup carrier on the route, which would allow it to operate the service if American were unable to start service.

Earlier this month, American rejected Delta’s argument and noted it had “worked diligently to obtain commercially viable slots in Beijing,” DOT noted in its order. American said DOT had previously granted Chicago-based United Airlines permission to delay starting up San Francisco-Shanghai service, and that Delta should be able to as well.

DOT noted these arguments, and ruled that American’s proposed Los Angeles-Beijing flight would “provide greater enhancements to competition and service” than Delta’s. “The [DOT] recognizes that, in granting an extension of the startup deadline, the benefits of American’s service may be somewhat delayed,” the department said. “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.”

However, DOT said a one-year extension, as American had originally requested, was not warranted. DOT also said a six-month extension is “more appropriate.” If American cannot secure the slots it wants, it can request another startup delay, which DOT will evaluate.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

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