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Washington Dulles pursues Shanghai and Tel Aviv service

Shanghai and Tel Aviv are at the top of Washington Dulles' wish list for new international service, as the network of foreign airlines at the airport continues to grow.

The two cities are the airport's "two most important targets", says Yil Surehan, vice-president of airline business development at Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA).

The airport operator is in talks with a number of airlines to potentially launch those routes, Surehan tells FlightGlobal, although he declines to name specific carriers.

Dulles currently offers nonstop flights to only nine destinations in Asia and the Middle East, FlightGlobal schedules data show. This will grow to 10 in September when Cathay Pacific Airways begins service to Hong Kong.

Beijing is the only destination in mainland China that is served from Dulles, by Star Alliance carriers Air China and United Airlines. Washington DC is currently the largest unserved US-Shanghai market, says Surehan.

There are currently limited opportunities for airlines to add flights between the USA and Shanghai, which is designated a zone one city under the US-China air transport agreement. Earlier this year, United returned three zone one frequencies to US regulators after it ended service between Shanghai and Guam.

The frequencies given up by United will take the unallocated number of US-China zone one frequencies to four weekly, which is not enough to sustain daily service.

Alongside the pursuit of Shanghai and Tel Aviv, the airport is hoping to add more Latin American destinations to its network.

While the airport welcomed Volaris Costa Rica yesterday with nonstop service from San Salvador, the airline's entry comes months after the airport lost LATAM Airlines Group which exited its Washington Dulles-Lima route.

Surehan says MWAA is in talks with LATAM to resume service, if not from Lima then from other destinations in South America. The airport authority is also in discussions with Mexico's Volaris, the sister carrier of Volaris Costa Rica.

"We see further opportunities in Mexico and Central America," says Surehan.

Volaris Costa Rica is the fourth Latin American carrier at Dulles after Aeromexico, Avianca and Copa Airlines. Both Volaris Costa Rica and Avianca offer service from Dulles to San Salvador, while Aeromexico flies to Mexico City and Copa to Panama City.

The Washington DC metro area is home to one of the largest Central America-born populations in the country, with about 4.8% of its population born in that region, US Census data show.

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