American Airlines' plans to invest $200 million in China Southern Airlines hinge on approval of a "slot exchange", says executive vice-president of corporate affairs Stephen Johnson.
The Fort Worth-based carrier has delayed close to early August from July pending regulatory approval of the exchange, he said during a second quarter earnings call on 28 July.
American declines to comment further on the slot exchange mentioned by Johnson.
The US airline has been working with Chinese regulators to secure slots in Beijing for a new daily flight from Los Angeles since December. In May – two months after the China Southern deal was announced – American said "sufficient progress" had been made on securing Beijing slots without elaborating, in a US regulatory filing.
China Southern is the second largest airline at Beijing Capital airport with a 14% share of seats in 2017, FlightGlobal schedules show.
American has until 16 September to launch the Los Angeles-Beijing flights after which the US Department of Transportation could reallocate the seven frequencies awarded for the route.
Delta Air Lines also sought the frequencies for its own Los Angeles-Beijing flight.
American and China Southern announced a strategic partnership in March, with the former taking a 2.68% stake in the latter via its Hong Kong-listed shares.