A rapid expansion of airports in Beijing has prompted hopes in Atlanta to eventually get a new route to China.
China opened Beijing Daxing International Airport, the second international airport for Beijing, last month. The city’s main airport, Beijing Capital International, is the second-busiest airport in the world behind Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
“The two busiest airports in the world I believe should be connected,” said Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden this week, after speaking at a signing ceremony for partnerships including one between the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance and Beijing New Aerotropolis.
“Beijing was constrained. So now you’ve just added 70 million in [passenger] capacity with the new airport,” he said. “So I’m hopeful they will do more expansion into this country.”
However, there are barriers to getting a new route to Beijing.
Delta Air Lines already operates a route from Atlanta to Shanghai, which it relaunched last year after previously struggling with the route due to weak demand. Atlanta-based Delta already has flights to Beijing from its Asian gateways Detroit and Seattle. It also has partnerships with several Chinese carriers.
Delta has also seen revenue decline on its Asia routes due to the effects of tariffs on the automotive and manufacturing sectors and lower leisure demand from mainland China, Delta president Glen Hauenstein said last week.
Delta noted that it offers nonstop flights between Atlanta and Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, as well as connections to other destinations in Asia.
“We’re always exploring new opportunities to successfully operate new routes, but have nothing to announce at this time,” said Delta spokesman Anthony Black in a written statement.
Selden said there are a number of potential airlines that could launch a route to Beijing, including Delta or Chinese carriers.
“I think it would be very good for the economy of Georgia if we could make that connectivity whether it’s Delta or a foreign flag” carrier, Selden said.
Hartsfield-Jackson previously offered incentives for new international routes, but it does not currently have such an incentive program. “If we needed to going forward, we would reinstate it, if we thought we were in a situation where we need it,” Selden said.
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