Two US airlines cut China routes as Beijing rivals turn up heat

American Airlines, the largest US carrier by passengers, said it would drop a route between Chicago and Shanghai. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Two US airlines cut China routes as Beijing rivals turn up heat

  • ‘The two China routes ... have been colossal loss makers for us’
  • Chinese passengers arriving at US airports are expected to nearly triple to 12.8 million in 2024 from 4.3 million this year

DENVER/SHANGHAI: Two US airlines on Tuesday cut routes between China and the US, underscoring increasingly tough competition from state-backed Chinese rivals as they aggressively expand their fleets with cut-price tickets.
American Airlines, the largest US carrier by passengers, said it would drop a route between Chicago and Shanghai, canceling the second direct flight from the US city to China in four months. It had canceled a flight to Beijing in May, although it still operates daily flights to the capital from Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
“The two China routes ... have been colossal loss makers for us,” said Vasu Raja, vice president of network and schedule planning, adding that high fuel costs had also made the route unsustainable.
Hawaiian Airlines said it would from October suspend its thrice-weekly nonstop service between Honolulu and Beijing, which it opened in 2014, citing slower-than-expected growth in demand.
Competition from Chinese airlines is expected to grow with the anticipated easing of China’s near-decade-old “one route, one airline” policy, which would allow more local airlines to fly long-haul international routes.
“US airlines are at a severe disadvantage,” said Mike Boyd, president of aviation forecaster Boyd Group. “The majority of demand is China-generated, and that gives Chinese carriers the advantage.”
Chinese passengers arriving at US airports are expected to nearly triple to 12.8 million in 2024 from 4.3 million this year, and the profile is shifting from groups to independent travelers, according to Boyd Group.
United Airlines President Scott Kirby said Shanghai and Beijing had rebounded for the airline after several years of weakness, although revenue per available seat mile (RASM) was below levels of two or three years ago.
“We’ve had several years of weakness as there was an awful lot of capacity growth out of Beijing and Shanghai,” Kirby said on the sidelines of the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver.
American and Hawaiian said the route cancelations were unrelated to demands placed by China’s civil aviation regulator on foreign airlines to amend the way they referred to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan on their websites.
Chinese state media had earlier this month singled out the two companies and other US airlines as being among the last firms to comply with China’s demands.
“That issue of how Taiwan was displayed on our website had absolutely zero impact on this decision,” Hawaiian’s chief executive, Peter Ingram, said. “Our economic evaluation was well underway long before that issue arose.”


Ghosn sues Nissan and Mitsubishi for breach of contract: report

Updated 22 min 34 sec ago
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Ghosn sues Nissan and Mitsubishi for breach of contract: report

  • Ghosn is seeking up to $16.8 millions in damages
  • He spent over 100 days jailed in Japan over financial misconduct trials
PARIS: Former auto titan Carlos Ghosn, currently under house arrest in Tokyo, is suing Nissan and Mitsubishi in a Dutch court for “improper termination” of his contract, French newspaper Le Figaro reported Wednesday.
Ghosn is accusing the Japanese manufacturers of breaching his contract as an employee of NMBV, their joint subsidiary based in the Netherlands, and seeking up to $16.8 million in damages, it said.
The big-spending former chief of both Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct.
He was kept behind bars for over 100 days before being granted bail and sacked from all his management roles.
Ghosn is accused of under-reporting millions of dollars in income at Nissan and of using company funds for personal expenses — charges he denies.
His lawyers argue that while Ghosn resigned from Renault-Nissan BV (RNBV), he had not done so from NMBV and “the breach of contract” was unwarranted, Le Figaro said.
Nissan and Mitsubishi argue that Ghosn’s contract was invalid as it would not have been submitted to NMBV’s board, according to the daily.
NMBV had thanked Ghosn after a meeting of his board of directors on March 12, the same day as the announcement of its dissolution.
Ghosn’s spokesperson and his lawyer both declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Le Figaro said the manufacturers were seeking to recover some $8.79 million paid to Ghosn by NMBV between April and November 2018.
Renault announced in early June it was considering taking action against its former boss after it identified $12.36 million of “questionable expenses” linked to Ghosn at RNBV.
The 65-year-old Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November as he stepped off his private jet at Tokyo airport.
His dramatic downfall stunned the business world and laid bare tensions in the alliance between Renault, Nissan and their smaller Japanese partner Mitsubishi.
Ghosn has not been charged in connection with his activities at NMBV.