Back in April, there was some talk at the Department of Transportation (DOT) about a possible agreement with China to liberalize air traffic between the two countries. Earlier this month, it looked like talks had stalled, but last week the DOT announced a new civil aviation agreement with the Chinese government.
Passenger flights between the two countries will more than double by 2012.
- The agreement will allow three more U.S. carriers to operate in China, one in 2007, and two in 2009. Legacy airlines such as Continental and US Airways have already published press releases praising the agreement, and it's easy to see why.
- U.S. carriers will be able to operate 13 new daily flights to and from China within the next five years, bringing the eventual total up to 23 per day (as opposed to the 10 daily flights currently operating to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou).
In the statement announcing the agreement, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters said, "Piece by piece, we are making it easier, cheaper, and more convenient to fly people and ship goods between our two countries."
This comes on the heels of the U.S-Europe open-skies agreement, and promises more opportunities for U.S. passengers heading both west and east.