American Airlines Gives Up on Serving China From Chicago

Jun 28, 2019

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American Airlines is giving up on serving China from Chicago O’Hare for the time being, returning its rights for flights to Beijing and Shanghai to US regulators.

The Oneworld Alliance carrier returned the 14 frequencies it holds for flights to the Chinese cities from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to the Department of Transportation on Friday (June 28), it said in a regulatory filing.

“Despite American’s efforts, American is unable to resume its two services in the near future,” the company says.

American suspended service on both routes in October 2018 citing sizable financial losses.

“The two China routes… have been colossal loss makers for us,” Vasu Raja, American’s vice president of network and schedule planning, said last year about the then-suspension of the Chicago routes to Beijing and Shanghai.

The DOT allowed American to hold onto the sought-after frequencies in February, despite objections from Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. With all of the flights to Beijing and Shanghai available to US carriers allocated, Delta and United argued that the regulator should not allow American to hold onto its idled frequencies.

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The airline told the the DOT in November 2018 that it planned to resume the China flights from Chicago in the future, citing the opening of the new Beijing Daixing airport later this year as a possible opportunity.

Delta said at the time it wanted to begin a new flight between Minneapolis/St Paul and Shanghai while United proposed a second daily flight between Newark Liberty and Shanghai.

The return of American’s 14 China frequencies, enough for two daily round-trip flights, could allow Delta and United to reapply to the DOT for their proposed Shanghai flights.

Related: China Eastern: Reviews, Deals, News & Guides

American continues to serve Beijing and Shanghai from both Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

In addition, Chicago continues to boast competition to both Beijing and Shanghai. United flies both routes while China Eastern Airlines offers service between Chicago O’Hare and Shanghai, the data shows. Additionally, Hainan Airlines flies between Chicago O’Hare and Beijing.

American plans to grow capacity by roughly 2.5% in 2019, with the majority of that focused on its Dallas/Fort Worth hub.

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