Delta Air Lines Inc. filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation last week to fly non-stop between Atlanta and Beijing beginning 2006, following a U.S. agreement with China for additional air routes, according to a Delta announcement.

The U.S.-China air services agreement more than doubles the number of U.S. airlines that may serve China and permits a four-fold increase in weekly flights between the two countries over the next six years.

Delta’s DOT application seeks authority to operate daily service connecting Atlanta to Beijing and the entire eastern U.S. using its Boeing 777 aircraft.

“Delta’s service will be particularly beneficial for passengers traveling to and from the southeastern United States, one of the fastest growing and most under-served regions in terms of U.S./China gateways,” Delta CEO Jerry Grinstein said in the statement.

Combined with connecting flight opportunities at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the proposed service will provide convenient service to China and reduce flying time for vast numbers of travelers and shippers throughout the eastern and southeastern U.S., Mr. Grinstein said.

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