U.S. Carriers Vying for China Route Let Mud Fly

It's the nature of airlines to spend time trash-talking about their competitor's applications, even as they extol the virtues of their own.

United criticizes American's D/FW route as offering "circuitous" service for many in the eastern and central United States. While United doesn't mention the Asia routes it has abandoned, it points out to the Transportation Department that American and Northwest both have stopped service on Asian routes, saying neither carrier can "sustain service to Asia" from D/FW or Detroit, respectively.

Northwest says its Detroit hub will provide more U.S.-China connections than its competitors' connecting hubs at Newark, Washington or D/FW. The time waiting for connections will be shorter in Detroit than other airports, "especially DFW, which is absurdly circuitous for large areas of the United States," Northwest says.

Northwest says the government "should select the hub gateway that best serves the most people. On that basis, Northwest's Detroit hub wins hands down."

In its July 10 order kicking off the competition, the Transportation Department says its primary objective "will be to maximize the public benefits that will result from award of the authority in this case."

That includes the proposal that offers the "best service" and affects the market and competition "in order to promote an air transportation environment that will sustain the greatest public benefits," the department told the airlines.

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