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As welcome as the Houston flights may be, American Air’s moves aren’t coming from a position of strength.
American Airlines said on Wednesday it plans to add nonstop flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport next year to expand its global reach.
AMR Corp’s American, which hopes to exit bankruptcy protection by merging with US Airways Group and forming the world’s biggest carrier, said it would operate Boeing 777 planes on the flights to the Chinese cities. The service is expected to begin next summer, pending regulatory clearance.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in August challenging American’s proposed merger with US Airways, saying it would lead to higher ticket prices and hurt competition. A federal trial in the case is set to begin on November 25.
Dallas/Fort Worth is the biggest of American’s five major U.S. hubs. Hong Kong is a new destination for the carrier. American currently flies to Shanghai from its Chicago and Los Angeles hubs.
The carrier, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in late 2011, announced other plans for its network, including the termination of service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Tokyo Haneda, with the last eastbound flight on December 1.
“Our Tokyo/Haneda flight has been quite unprofitable, largely because we are allowed to operate only during severely restricted hours, limiting our customers’ options for connecting flights to and from other Asian markets,” American Chief Commercial Officer Virasb Vahidi said in a message to employees on Wednesday.
He added that the move to cancel the service to Haneda, which American began in early 2011, came after failed efforts to persuade the United States and Japan to reach an agreement easing schedule constraints at Haneda, which handles mostly domestic traffic. American operates nine daily flights between the United States and Tokyo Narita International airport, which receives most international traffic.
Japan Airlines , a member of the oneworld global alliance that includes American and British Airways , earlier this month was awarded fewer new landing slots than a rival received as Haneda opens a new runway. JAL was awarded five of 16 slots up for grabs, with the rest going to ANA Holdings . JAL has asked the Japanese government to reconsider that allocation.
American also said it would operate three daily flights from New York’s Kennedy airport to London Heathrow instead of four next year as it upgrades older 777 planes with seats that fully recline. Joint venture partner British Airways will operate the flight that American is temporarily dropping to make the seat upgrades, Vahidi’s note said.
American added the seat changes were needed to be able to better compete with a new partnership between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic that will operate flights between the United States and Britain.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by Matthew Lewis)
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