Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 16, 2008
It wasn’t that long ago the big U.S. airlines were all dying to add more flights to China. The Olympic Games were going to provide a big boost in American travel to China, and airlines like American and Delta were keen on breaking into a market that had long been dominated by United, Northwest and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair. (There are also the state-owned Chinese airlines - Air China, China Eastern, China Southern - but they seem to cater more to mainland travelers than visitors from the U.S.)
There’s nothing like an economic downturn - on both sides of the Pacific - and high fuel prices to put a damper on big China plans. The AP reports yesterday (see the story here on BusinessWeek) that American airlines has won permission from the U.S. Transportation Dept. to delay the launch of its Chicago-Beijing non-stop for a year, with flights now starting no later than April 2010. Other airlines are cutting back, too. Some much-needed good news for Cathay Pacific.