U.S. airlines lobby for the right to fly to China
The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) will soon pick the next U.S. airline that is be allowed to offer flights to China. Beginning in 2001, the new route provides for as many as 10 flights a week.
Several airlines have shown interest in this new route, including United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, FedEx, and UPS. Some of these (UAL, NA, FedEx) already fly to China and would like either to win the new route or leave it to an non-rival airline (for example, UAL would prefer UPS to archrival AA). The other airlines see this as an opportunity to enter a new market.
The stakes are very high. For one, the China route is potentially quite lucrative. Second, firms like UPS, who want to compete globally, need a route to China; and missing this chance implies that there will not be another one for years.
A decision is expected soon from A Bradley Mims, a deputy assistant secretary of transportation. DOT rules bar airlines from speaking directly to Mr Mims. However, this has not stopped the airlines from the effort to help him make a decision in their favor: petitions and briefs are filed with the DOT; economists, lawyers and politicians are asked to write the DOT on behalf of the airlines; expensive lobbyists are hired; and so forth. In total, the DOT has received more than 900 submissions, some of them bundles of multiple letters.
The DOT says that the decision will be based on the public interest. However, it adds that ``when we do hear from the members of Congress and the various regions of the country and groups, including passengers and customers, we have to give that some weight.''
Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2000