American Airlines wants to add another Chinese city to its route map out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, announcing plans Thursday to seek government approval for direct flights to Beijing.
The Fort Worth-based carrier launched its first flights to China from DFW in June when it initiated service to Shanghai and Hong Kong. At the launch event, American’s chief executive Doug Parker said China is an “area that is strategically important for us.”
American said it would like to begin service to Beijing next summer and will use a retrofitted Boeing 777-200ER with lie-flat business class seats on the route.
“The pending addition of Beijing and recent additions of Shanghai and Hong Kong elevate Dallas/Fort Worth to one of the primary connecting hubs between Asia and destinations within the U.S. as well as Mexico, Central and South America,” said American’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Nocella.
Parker told Wall Street analysts in July that there “are profitable opportunities” in Asia and the carrier was evaluating new routes to add to its network.
American currently flies to Beijing from its hub in Chicago. It also operates flights to Shanghai from Chicago and Los Angeles. American said it has applied to the Department of Transportation for the route between DFW and Beijing.
DFW almost got direct flights to China in 2006 when American applied for routes to Shanghai. However, the airline withdrew its application when it couldn’t reach an agreement with its pilots union to staff the 16-hour-plus flight.
International service at DFW has been steadily growing, with traffic from international flights up 39 percent in the past four years. Luis Perez, an executive with DFW Airport, told the airport board in August that “both flights are doing quite well,” as American offered promotional fares to Hong Kong and Shanghai over the summer.
When the carrier announced its Hong Kong and Shanghai flights, local leaders said they hoped the carrier would consider adding flights to China’s capital city.
DFW Airport’s chief executive Sean Donohue said at a symposium in May that China is a burgeoning consumer travel market and he hoped Beijing was next on American’s list.
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“The growth opportunities in China from an aviation standpoint, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Donohue said. “In the future, there will be even more opportunities to cities you haven’t even heard of like Guangzhou or Chengdu.”