A recent agreement between the US and Chinese governments lets the amount of flights flown by US carriers between the two countries to more than double. Right now, US carriers fly 10 daily flights to China, and the agreement allows for 13 more flights, with 1 new flight this year, another next year, four more in 2009, and seven more between 2010 and 2012.
This deal is significant because it will probably result in a tough race between US carriers like United, Northwest, American, Delta, and Continental. United and Northwest already have a pretty big presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and United was recently awarded the latest China route (Washington-Beijing). This provides other airlines like Delta and Continental, which want to enter the Chinese market, an opportunity to do so. 'Established' airlines, like United and Northwest, also have an opportunity to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, which is very profitable for both airlines. In a statement today, Northwest said it "applauds the U.S. Government’s success in achieving a major liberalization of the U.S.-China market. The new agreement opens the door for important new routes including Detroit-Shanghai, Detroit-Beijing and Minneapolis/St. Paul-Shanghai which Northwest urgently wants to offer its customers." The government will decide which airlines will get the routes.