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US-China aviation market: open skies remain overcast

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Open skies between the US and China periodically floats in and out of discourse in regulatory circles, and while on the surface it seems a deal would be welcomed by all the relevant stakeholders, the reality is that current market dynamics are diminishing any possibility of an agreement emerging in the short to medium term.

Trade tensions, currency fluctuations and China’s slowing economic growth are coalescing to create a scenario where US airlines are likely re-examining their China strategies for the short term.

But at the same time those airlines are working to ensure that they maintain a competitive position in the US-China market for the long term through partnerships and fierce slot grabs, on the rare chance that an airline returns China frequencies to a limited pool. 

Obviously American, Delta and United would eventually like to see China and the US reach an open skies pact in order to forge immunised JVs with their respective Chinese partners, but for now they seem resigned to the fact that the status quo will remain for the foreseeable future. 

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