Amid the furor of the presidential election, American Airlines quietly scored significant victory against rival Delta.
On Monday, the US Department of Transportation tentatively awarded American with a coveted new route from Los Angeles International Airport to Beijing Capital Airport.
This gives the airline the ability to operate daily, non-stop round-trip flights between LAX to Beijing starting in 2017.
Both Delta and American submitted proposals for the LAX-Beijing route earlier this year.
In a statement to the public this week, the DOT cited the increased competition from American’s entry into the market as a significant factor its decision.
American will now be the third US carrier to offer direct flights from the West Coast to the Chinese capital — joining Delta’s service from Seattle and United flight out of San Francisco.
The number of flights between the two countries is limited by a bilateral treaty agreed upon by the US and Chinese governments. According to Skift’s Brian Sumers, there are a total of 154 weekly flights allowed between the US and China, of which only eight were unclaimed. As a result only one of the two proposals could be accepted.
“Because there are insufficient frequencies remaining to accommodate both American’s and Delta’s requests, DOT was required to institute a proceeding to select a carrier to provide service in this market,” the DOT wrote in a statement.
Even though a single route may not sound like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s a not insignificant victory for the Fort Worth-based airline. Over the past few years, both American and Delta have worked hard to build up its LAX operation as a major gateway to Asia. A new daily flight to Beijing will certainly boost American’s credentials and serve as a good counterpart to the airline’s current LAX to Shanghai flight.
In a statement to Business Insider, American Airlines wrote:
“We’re very pleased the Department of Transportation has tentatively awarded American the necessary U.S.-China frequencies to serve Beijing from our West Coast gateway at Los Angeles International Airport. We thank Secretary Foxx, Acting Assistant Secretary Rosenberg and the Department for its thoughtful consideration and look forward to starting daily, year-round service between Los Angeles and Beijing in 2017. This new service further underscores American’s commitment to providing customers with a world-class global network from our Los Angeles hub.”
In response to the news, Delta issued the following statement to us:
“Delta is disappointed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s tentative decision on nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Beijing. Delta’s proposal would enhance competition at LAX and offer consumers more connections beyond Beijing, in addition to providing a superior experience for customers at both airports. We remain committed to our Los Angeles hub, where we’ve been the fastest-growing carrier since 2009, and to China, where we operate 42 weekly flights from the United States.”
Objections to the DOT’s decision much be submitted by November 22.