American Solicits Help to Win China Route

American Airlines Inc. launched a Web site Monday promoting its application to provide daily flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Beijing.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will choose one carrier to provide daily service starting in March.

Also seeking a China route are Continental Airlines Inc., for Newark, N.J.-Shanghai service; Northwest Airlines Inc., for Detroit-Shanghai; and United Airlines Inc., for Washington Dulles-Beijing.

Airlines typically rally supporters to flood the Transportation Department with letters in support of route applications, particularly for highly desired service to China.

Through Friday, supporters of American's application had filed 46 letters urging the agency to approve the D/FW route, with Continental not far behind with 43 letters backing its Newark service.

The Internet gives carriers a new avenue to seek grassroots support, and American urged supporters to go to the site, www.flyto, to voice support for its bid.

In its application, American says that since Northwest and United have substantially more service to China, the choice is between American and Continental.

While Continental's Newark hub serves a much larger Chinese population, American says, it would provide service for the southern half of the United States.

"Opening D/FW Airport to China travel only makes sense since dozens of cities and millions of people already connect directly to D/FW," said Will Ris, American's senior vice president of government affairs.

"People and businesses in the southern and southwestern United States deserve the opportunity for a daily nonstop or one-stop route to China that has not been readily available to them in the past," he said.

Continental said in its filing that service to Shanghai, particularly from New York, is more necessary than another route to Beijing; that American's service would duplicate other connecting service; and that the Newark-Shanghai flights would "convenience" more passengers with nonstop service than flights from competing cities.

Copyright: The Dallas Morning News -- 8/23/06

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