American Airlines flying in
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Sources indicate American Airlines is planning to fly to Hong Kong from the United States.
The news comes as US aviation regulators and national airline representatives yesterday began a three-day meeting with their Hong Kong counterparts in a bid to hammer out a new air-services agreement.
The previous accord expired more than a year ago but differences about the pace of liberalisation of Hong Kong aviation have delayed a new agreement.
Any settlement is expected to include code-sharing arrangements for Cathay Pacific Airways and American Airlines on flights between the two countries. Code-sharing allows airlines to share planes.
In recent discussions, American Airlines, which does not provide flights to Hong Kong, had indicated it planned to start offering a service, the source said.
The plan does not depend on a new air-services agreement being reached but could have a bearing on discussions about code-sharing arrangements.
American Airlines could not be reached for comment yesterday.
US carriers Northwest, Continental and United fly to Hong Kong. The US is thought to be arguing for further granting of fifth freedom rights, which would allow its carriers to stop in Hong Kong to collect passengers and cargo before flying on to another destination.
The US is also seeking 'change of gauge' rights, which would allow its airlines to change planes during an intermediate stop in Hong Kong.
In return, the US is thought to be offering Cathay Pacific five additional destinations to code-share with American Airlines. Cathay would have access to 13 mainland US destinations.