American Airlines plans to launch its new flight to Beijing from Los Angeles in November, after securing economically viable slots at the Chinese airport.
The Fort Worth-based Oneworld Alliance carrier plans to begin daily service on 5 November, it says in a filing with the US Department of Transportation today. It has previously said it will use a 289-seat Boeing 777-200 on the route.
American does not specify how it secured slots at Beijing Capital airport in the filing. However, Stephen Johnson, vice-president for corporate affairs at the airline, said in July that final approval of its $200 million investment in China Southern Airlines hinged on a "slot exchange" without providing additional details.
That investment was approved a week ago on 1 August, according to China Southern securities filings.
"American explored all options to obtain commercially viable slots at PEK and we’re pleased those efforts were successful," a spokesman for American says, adding that all slots are awarded by Chinese regulators.
The US airline and China Southern plan a codeshare under the new investment, including connections to 40 destinations in China over Beijing.
In its latest filing, American asks the DOT for a short-term extension to the start-up date for the Los Angeles-Beijing flights from the current 16 September deadline. The slots are unavailable until the beginning of the IATA winter season on 29 October and it needs a few days to reposition and prep aircraft after that, the airline says.
The carrier also asks the regulator to reject a request by Delta Air Lines that it be denied any further start-up extensions.
Atlanta-based Delta filed the request with the DOT early in July, adding that it was ready to launch service on the Los Angeles-Beijing route if American could not.
The DOT awarded the seven frequencies needed for the route, the last daily bundle available to Beijing or Shanghai for US carriers, to American in December 2016 after a heated competition with Delta. The former, citing difficulties securing slots, received a six-month start-up extension in March.
American is the third largest US carrier to China, after United Airlines and Delta, FlightGlobal schedules show. It will compete with Air China on the Los Angeles-Beijing route.
Updated with statement on slots from American