First, this topic was covered a few weeks ago and in quite a bit of detail when info of the deal was first released. So, if you want more info or links, just look it up on the search.
Second, I hope that those of you who think that the LCCs should apply and could operate the China routes are not serious. An ATA L-1011 into China? Please. With routes that are this lucrative, why would you operate discount tickets when you can just as easily fill the plane at much higher fares. This is not a situation where you can expand the market with low fares, add many flights, and then make revenue that way.
As for US airlines in Asia: As mentioned, AA
does not have a hub in Tokyo and they are not very strong at all...they have only five flights on most days (SJC
, 2X DFW
, and JFK
). Plus, they don't have the hub operations of NW
and the flights throughout the Pacific. In fact, Tokyo is American's only destination in Asia. However, I do believe that they will be aggressively pursuing the right to become the new carrier in China. In addition to China, they would probably finally start the ORD
flight that they have the rights for.
As for Delta, I don't see them trying anytime in the first couple of years. With only 8 777s (and others deferred for a while), they will be a little pressed for aircraft with the range. They would likely have to put nearly all of their 777 fleet in the Pacific to accomodate these flights. Plus, I have a hard time believing that they would be able to draw enough traffic from any hub other than Atlanta...which would be a pretty long haul.
Continental definitely seems to be a strong contender and I am almost certain that they will be making a run at the China routes. As mentioned before, they have delivery options for 777s that they have been holding for just such a case. Plus, after NW
, I believe that they are the largest US carrier in Asia (passenger carrier) if you include the Continental Micronesia operation.
Most likely, politics and influence will play an important role in this decision. I know that AA
supported Bush a bit, but Continental is also based in Texas, so who knows there. As for other airlines, I imagine that United and Northwest will both be pushing for Continental over American. Northwest will prefer to have a partner airline operating the routes and I am sure that United would rather have Continental operating the routes from Newark instead of having American operate routes from Chicago in direct competition.
One last thing. A friend with AA
told me that they just announced that slots for JFK
flights had been turned in or plans were cancelled.