The stage appears to be set for United and American Airlines to battle for supremacy in Chinese airspace.
United currently has the most services between China and the United States, but American is making a big push for the market.
In April, American will begin a direct, daily flight between Chicago and Shanghai. Chicago also happens to be United’s home base and largest hub.
United has four direct flights to China every day, connecting Shanghai and Beijing to Chicago and San Francisco.
And making the competition even more intense, China Eastern Airlines has just applied to the government for permission to fly direct flights from Shanghai to Chicago and New York in 2006.
United has said it will respond to the competition by offering a number of airfare frequent flyer promotions. It also plans to launch a Friendly Sky Club that will give flyers more bonus miles and benefits.
In addition, United is awaiting approval for a proposed route between Guangzhou and San Francisco. It anticipates that the service will begin in early 2006.