United Airlines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Inc., rivals for new routes to China, are publicizing employee support for their proposed service -- drawing a contrast with a third contender, American Airlines Inc.
Fort Worth-based American doesn't have an agreement with the Allied Pilots Association to operate its proposed service between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Beijing.
The duration of American's proposed flights -- 14.5 hours to Beijing and nearly 13 hours to D/FW, plus additional time on the ground -- isn't covered by the contract with the pilots union.
Northwest and United, which have numerous routes to Asia, already have language to cover such issues as staffing and rest, the carriers noted this week.
"Northwest pilots see no operational problems, as we have been flying from the U.S. to China since 1947, longer than any other American airline currently flying," said pilot Dave Stevens, who heads Northwest's chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association.
Northwest has applied for Detroit-Shanghai service, while United seeks a route between Washington, D.C., and Beijing.
Federal transportation officials are expected to pick a winner from those three or Continental Airlines Inc., which wants to launch service between Newark, N.J., and Shanghai by the end of 2006.
American's contract with its union allows the airline to schedule pilots for up to 16 hours on duty, with a maximum of 18 hours on duty, on international flights with four pilots.
In 2005, the union board expanded those limits by two hours for pilots flying the Chicago-New Delhi route that launched last November.
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Northwest and United, which have numerous routes to Asia, already have language to cover such issues as staffing and rest.
Return flights would operate directly from Beijing to Dallas because tail winds reduce their time.
The timing would let American benefit from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and increased ties between China and Dallas-area corporations.
Union leaders want concessions in exchange for supporting the airline's bid for the China route.