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US Airways to Pitch for China Route
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US Airways Group Inc, unsuccessful in a hostile bid for Delta Air Lines Inc last month, will seek US authorization to begin flights to China in 2008.


US Airways will specify what cities it would serve if it wins the nonstop route "in the next couple of weeks," spokeswoman Andrea Rader said on Friday. Delta applied last month to fly nonstop between Atlanta and Shanghai, starting in 2008.


Airlines are seeking routes to China, the world's fastest-growing economy, as international trade expands. Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways, the seventh-largest domestic carrier, asked the US Transportation Department to delay a decision on Delta's application until other contenders can file.


"The hearing next year is for carriers that don't currently serve China," Rader said. "This is the next logical step, for us to be able to serve Asia."


US Airways said it asked federal officials to delay an evaluation of Delta's filing because the Atlanta-based carrier "filed very, very early and we wanted to be sure it didn't just go to Delta," Rader said.


Bill Adams, a Transportation Department spokesman, didn't comment, reported Bloomberg News.


"Delta is eager to compete vigorously," Betsy Talton, a Delta spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. "Our proposal to bring the first-ever China service to the southeastern US is superior to any other proposal."


US Airways made public its hostile bid for Delta on November 15. It increased the merger offer, which would have created the world's biggest airline, to US$5 billion in cash and US$89.5 million US Airways shares, on January 10.


The bid was withdrawn on January 31, after Delta's official unsecured creditors committee endorsed the airline's plan to leave court supervision as an independent company.


UAL Corp's United Airlines won US approval in January for the first nonstop flight from Washington to Beijing, beating out AMR Corp's American Airlines, Northwest Airlines Corp and Continental Airlines Inc.


American, United, Continental and Northwest, four of the five-largest US carriers, already have US-China service. American has said it will bid for more China routes.


US Airways currently doesn't have aircraft large enough to make a nonstop flight between the US and China.


"We can get them," Rader said. "They are pretty readily available."


(Shanghai Daily February 12, 2007)

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