Delta Air Lines is seeking a second nonstop route to China—Atlanta to Beijing—even before it has won flying rights for its first target, a daily flight between its main hub and Shanghai, The Atlanta Journal- Constitution reported on Monday. Most major passenger airlines were expected to apply by Monday’ s deadline for several new daily U.S.-China flights being awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) over the next three years.
Delta, which has been reaching far and wide for political support in the China sweepstakes after being beaten twice before, planned to begin the daily flights in March 2009, said the report.
It also announced plans months ago to apply for rights to launch the Atlanta-Shanghai service in March 2008.
The carrier said it has enlisted support from a dozen governors in the Southeast and Puerto Rico, several members of congress and senators, and cities and business groups from the region. according to the report.
Delta, the largest network carrier that doesn’t fly to China, is widely believed to be the likely winner for the first flight to become available later this winter or spring, the report added.
The DOT has reserved those initial flying rights, known as the 2007 award, for a passenger carrier that doesn’t currently fly to China.
US Airways, the only other major network carrier that doesn’t have flights to China, also showed initial interest in this year’s award but has since indicated that it will apply for service to start in 2009, according to press reports.