US Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Civil Aviation Administration of China Minister Yang Yuanyuan today signed a landmark air services agreement that will more than double the number of airlines that can fly between the United States and China and will permit a nearly five-fold increase in US-China air services over the next six years.
"This agreement opens new routes for travelers and new doors for American workers," said Secretary Mineta. "Expanding aviation opportunities between the United States and China means more US airlines, businesses and travelers can take advantage of growing trade between our two rapidly expanding economies."
The new agreement, which was initialed June 18 in Washington, D.C., will allow five additional airlines from each country to serve the US-China market over the next six years. The United States may name one additional all-cargo airline, while China may name either a passenger or cargo airline, to start service later this year. The importance of additional air cargo services to China is illustrated by a recent US Department of Transportation (DOT) study showing that air freight is the fastest growing segment of the American cargo industry.
As a result of the agreement, DOT on Friday authorized United Air Lines and Northwest Airlines to operate seven flights each per week between the United States and China. Northwest will operate a new daily flight from Detroit to Guangzhou - the first US-carrier passenger service to that city - with a stopover in Tokyo, while United will begin a new daily nonstop service between Chicago and Shanghai.
The agreement will allow a total of 195 new weekly flights for each country - 111 by all-cargo carriers and 84 by passenger airlines - growing to a total of 249 weekly flights at the end of a six-year phase-in period. A total of 14 of these flights will be available for new US passenger services on August 1, 2004.
The signing took place during Secretary Mineta's four-day visit to China to discuss mutual cooperation on transportation issues. He also will travel to Bali, Indonesia, for the 4th Transportation Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, to be held July 26-29.
Secretary Mineta today also announced a $500,000 grant from the US Trade and Development Agency for the US-China Aviation Cooperation Program, also known as the Wright Brothers Partnership. This public-private program will bring together the US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration and a dozen US aviation companies operating in China to increase awareness of US technology, project standards and services that will assist China in strengthening its aviation infrastructure, and improve its aviation safety. The grant announced today is the first installment of a total of $1 million in funding for the partnership.
American Airlines said that the new agreement will inject much needed passenger capacity and competition into the US and China market. The airline said it will vigorously compete in the upcoming carrier selection proceeding.