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International Nonstops Flights Increase

March 15, 2005

International Nonstops Flights Increase
March 15, 2005 – Travelers can now find new nonstop routes as U.S. airlines expand into international markets in search of profit. But according to a USA TODAY analysis of flight schedule data, not all cities are benefiting equally from the growth in international air travel. For every U.S. airport that has added nonstop flights to foreign destinations in the past five years, about an equal number have lost such flights.


Since last year, the six big traditional U.S. airlines, each of which continues to post huge losses, have been aggressively expanding service across borders and overseas, where they face less competition.


"International service – that’s where the money is," says Howard Mann of Airports Council International-North America.


Overall, airports in the 48 contiguous states average 1,663 nonstop daily departures to foreign destinations, up 4.2 percent from five years ago. Experts say that an airport’s growth or decline in nonstop international flights is closely linked to the financial health and business strategies of its dominant airlines.


Regardless of their track record since 2000, many airport executives say they’re lobbying airlines around the world for more international service. U.S. government officials expect domestic airports to see plenty more opportunity in the coming year as the government develops agreements with other countries lowering restrictions on access.


Karan Bhatia, assistant U.S. Transportation secretary, says the U.S. carriers have recently taken advantage of reduced restrictions in China, Vietnam and Hong Kong. It’s evident, he says, from the fact the big six carriers have recently increased seats on international flights at twice the rate they’ve increased seats on domestic flights.


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