American Battles CAAC

American Airlines has applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for an extension to the start date of flights between Los Angeles and Beijing because it hasn’t yet been allocated any slots by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The DOT awarded the Dallas-based carrier seven weekly frequencies on links between the US and China’s Zone 1 and 2 in December so that it could begin daily services between LAX and Beijing/Capital using a Boeing 777-200ER.  The deadline for the launch of flights was March 16.  However, the CAAC rejected American’s request for slots on January 18.

“The CAAC did not, as it had done in the past, even offer American slots at commercially non-viable times, such as between midnight and sunrise when few passengers want to take off or land,” the carrier noted in its filing to the US DOT.

“To date, the CAAC has refused to provide any slots to allow American to exercise its bilaterally conferred rights.”

American has therefore requested an extension from the DOT of either one year from its original March 16 deadline or within 90 days of it obtaining commercially viable slots at Beijing.

The airline has history with the Chinese authorities.  In 2010 CAAC refused to grant American slots in the Chinese capital except at 2:20am and 4:20am for its Chicago-Beijing service, forcing the oneworld member to cancel its initial flights and delaying the launch of daily services for three months.

To counter these issues, American has filed an objection to the renewal of Air China’s exemption authority to fly scheduled services between Beijing and Houston, Texas.

“American recognises that Air China has timely filed for renewal of its authority and does not take issue with any aspect of Air China’s operation of this service; rather, American bases its objection on the failure of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to make commercially viable slots at Chinese airports available to American and other US carriers on a reciprocal basis,” the carrier stated in its filling.

American says these difficulties result in the “integrity of the Civil Air Transport Agreement” being questioned.

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