American Airlines has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate daily nonstop service between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Beijing beginning in March 2007, company executives said Thursday.
American, which began daily round-trip service between Chicago and Shanghai in April, proposes to serve Beijing with 245-seat Boeing 777 aircraft.
American Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey said the world's largest commercial carrier has been interested in expanding its presence in the booming Chinese market for several years.
"We believe we can best serve travelers by flying from DFW, our largest hub, to Beijing, China's governmental center," Arpey said in a written statement. "If American is awarded this new Beijing service, it will provide substantial benefits by deepening the important cultural and economic ties between China and the North Texas region as well as much of the U.S. that is conveniently served through our DFW hub.
"This service to Beijing will complement our existing flights to Shanghai from our Chicago hub."
The DOT is considering applications for seven flights into China in 2007 by four carriers operating there with passenger and cargo service: American, United Airlines, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines.
Before 2000, when China and the U.S. expanded bilateral air service, the only U.S. carriers operating between the countries were United and Northwest.
If approved by the DOT, American's daily round-trip flight between DFW and Beijing is expected to generate a $120 million annual economic impact to the North Texas economy, officials said.
China is the No. 1 trading Balance = 20.0 ptspartner with the North Texas region, with trade reaching more than $13 billion in 2005, they said.
"This flight would be one of the most historic flights and most high-profile routes in the 100-year history of aviation in North Texas," said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW. "This flight would mean a new era in trade and business relationships and an unprecedented new wave of artistic and cultural exchange between Texas and China.
"It would create thousands of new jobs in our area and bolster the already robust cargo and manufacturing activities we have seen grow at DFW as a direct result of increased business with China. Imagine a Super Bowl, StanBalance = 30.0 ptsley Cup or World Series in North Texas every year. That's how big this flight would be to our region and our economy."
American spokesman Tim Smith said service to Beijing would have an extra benefit of giving American a presence there in time for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"Having service to both of China's two major cities gives us coverage for our customers in either direction," Smith said.
DFW-to-Beijing flights would take 14.5 hours for the 6,971-mile trip; Beijing-to-DFW flights would operate in 12 hours and 50 minutes, he said.
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