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US Airways pushes Beijing claim

US Airways has told
the U.S. Department of Transportation that the airline’s bid for
daily service to China in 2009 provides maximum competition for U.S. consumers
and greater convenience for shippers, while also establishing a new gateway to
China for more than 150,000 passengers annually.“Selection of US Airways will allow a strong new competitor to institute
daily nonstop service from a new gateway, using the largest aircraft proposed
by any U.S.-Beijing applicant,” the airline said in reply filings with the DOT
today. “US Airways’ application also offers the dual benefits of extensive
behind- and beyond-gateway connections, through its comprehensive East Coast
network and codeshare arrangements with both Air China and Shanghai Airlines.”

  The airline is proposing seven weekly roundtrip flights serving more than
150,000 travelers annually on wide-body Airbus A340 269-seat aircraft between
Philadelphia and Beijing.  Service would originate at the airline’s hub in
Charlotte, N.C., on a 204-seat Boeing 767 aircraft.

  The airline’s case, detailed at, is
supported by an extensive array of elected officials from the Northeast and
mid-Atlantic states.  More than 40,000 people also have signed the airline’s
online e-petition.

  The last day to file papers with the DOT was Friday.  If approved by DOT,
US Airways’ flights would begin in March 2009 and would be the first-ever
service to Asia both for the City of Philadelphia and under the US Airways’

  In announcing the application earlier this month, US Airways Chairman and
CEO Doug Parker said US Airways’ proposal will close a service gap “by greatly
improving access to China for the large and dynamic Philadelphia market and by
offering travelers convenient one-stop connections from 37 cities into our
Philadelphia hub.”


  Philadelphia is the second largest city on the East Coast and the fifth in
the nation, with a metropolitan area of almost 6 million people.  It is also
the second largest U.S. metro area without nonstop service to China.

  Noting that half the U.S. population lives along the East Coast and that
travelers to China are served now by only 25 flights weekly from gateways in
Washington, D.C., and New York, the airline said that “the East Coast, and
Philadelphia in particular, plainly needs additional nonstop China service.”

  In addition to increased convenience and competition for passengers, the
airline also pointed out unprecedented benefits for cargo shippers, noting
that the Charlotte-Philadelphia catchment area represents nearly 50 percent of
the U.S.-China cargo market, with a value of more than $30 billion.
“Depending on customs processing times, cargo leaving Beijing could be
available for pick-up in Charlotte the same day,” the airline said.

  The DOT is expected to grant authority to U.S. carriers to operate four
new U.S.-China routes in 2009, and has suggested that the routes would be
assigned to at least one carrier that does not currently serve China.

  One of the industry’s most financially stable airlines, US Airways has
made significant investments in its Philadelphia hub since its merger with
America West in the fall of 2005, including a commitment to expand
international service from Philadelphia.  Today, US Airways is the third
largest carrier between Europe and the U.S. in number of destinations served,
with flights to 19 European cities.

  US Airways currently serves 19 million customers annually at its
Philadelphia hub, and operates 448 daily flights to 106 destinations in the
United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.

  This summer the airline added international service to Athens, Greece;
Brussels, Belgium; and Zurich, Switzerland from Philadelphia, and will begin
offering year-round service between Philadelphia and Dublin, Ireland this