United Airlines requests DOT waiver extension on China flights

United Airlines wants the DOT to extend the waiver allowing it to not operate some flights to China
Phuong D. Nguyen / Shutterstock.com

United Airlines wants the United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT) to extend a waiver in order for the airline to keep its frequency allocation on flights to and from China.

The DOT initially granted a waiver in March 2020, allowing airlines to keep their assigned frequencies on flights from and/or to China until October 2020, eventually extending the waiver until October 28, 2023.

United Airlines noted in the filing that it does not plan to operate 49 out of the 63 assigned frequencies to the country in the upcoming International Air Transport Association (IATA) winter 2023/2024 season.

IATA’s next winter season will begin on October 29, 2023, and end on March 30, 2024.

According to the airline, the DOT order allowed requests for further extensions under the right circumstances, with United Airlines arguing that “circumstances warrant an extension of the waiver for 49 of United’s weekly frequencies through the forthcoming winter season”.

While the carrier said it applauds the DOT’s efforts to reinstate frequencies between the US and China “with a measured approach that ensures parity for airlines of each country and that matches capacity with demand”, additional frequencies remain suspended for the upcoming IATA winter season.

“United believes it is likely that additional extensions of the dormancy waiver will be necessary but will make requests for additional extensions as we approach IATA Summer 2024 and seasons beyond,” United Airlines said in the filing.

As such, the airline requested that 49 of its frequencies be waived from the dormancy conditions, calling the request “reasonable comparable to numerous requests that the Department has previously approved”.

In early August 2023, China and the US agreed to increase the number of total frequencies between the two countries, allowing airlines to operate six additional weekly flights from September 1, 2023. By October 29, 2023, the number of frequencies should rise to 24, split between American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, as well as Chinese airlines.

In response, United Airlines announced the return of flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Beijing Capital Airport (PEK), as well as connecting SFO and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) daily from October 1, 2023.

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