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American granted six-month reprieve for Beijing flights

The US Department of Transportation will give American Airlines six more months to acquire “commercially viable slots” in Beijing for a new daily service from Los Angeles.

The Fort Worth-based Oneworld Alliance carrier has until 16 September or 90 days after it receives viable slots at Beijing Capital International airport, whichever comes first, to begin the flights, the regulator says in a filing on 10 March.

The DOT denies American’s request for a one-year extension saying the airline can file for a new extension in September if it needs to. It also rejects a request by Delta Air Lines to reallocate the seven US-China frequencies to it for the same route, citing again that American’s proposal provides a greater public benefit.

American received the frequencies for the Los Angeles-Beijing route after a drawn out competition with Delta in December 2016 with the condition that flights begin within 90 days, or by March.

However, American says it has not been able to secure commercially viable slots from the Chinese regulators despite two separate applications, prompting the start-up extension request.

American has also objected to Air China’s application to renew its Beijing-Houston authority. The US airline notes that the state-owned carrier does not face the same slot constraints in Houston while benefitting from the Chinese regulator's delays in granting American slots on its monopoly Los Angeles-Beijing route.

The DOT has yet to issue a decision on Air China’s application.

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