By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT

China factors in a big way for US airports in hot pursuit to increase traffic and carriers with this roaring dragon. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), JFK International (JFK), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) see big opportunities in attracting this business.

Natural gateway at LAX

Not wishing to rest on its laurels, LAX, a natural gateway for Asian-bound flights, tops the charts for trans-Pacific traffic, excluding Anchorage, which is used primarily as a refueling. Officials at Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) are anxiously awaiting news regarding the bid United Airlines submitted to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that could allow the carrier to begin non-stop 747 service from LAX to Shanghai, China.

Currently, Los Angeles operates as the largest US city without any service to China by a US carrier, a fact that might bode well for LAX. Officials believe they have a good argument for the case.

‘We feel the service is a great opportunity and critical to us. For one, United wants to place bigger aircraft on the service than the other carriers,’ says Mark Thorpe, LAWA Director of Air Service Development. This would open up more opportunities for cargo.

Almost 50% of all US-China traffic originates in the western Untied States.

If United obtains a ‘thumbs up’ from the DOT, service could begin as soon as March 2009.

LAX is already served by major Asian carriers. Korean Air is its largest carrier, joined by Singapore Air Cargo, Eva Air, China Airlines, and Cathay Pacific. LAWA officials anticipate LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) to soon become a player in the market given the fact that it is close to signing a lease agreement with an Asian logistics company and carrier that will take space at the Pacific Gateway Cargo Center, the one million square foot facility developed by Aeroterm.

China big at ORD

China factors in big at Chicago O’Hare. Currently, ORD handles 25% of all nonstop air service between the United States and China. Among the carriers servicing ORD with Asian connections are United Airlines, American Airlines, Air China, Atlas Air, ANA Cargo, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, China Airline, China Eastern, China Southern, EVA Air, Evergreen, Korean Air Cargo, JAL Cargo, NWA Cargo, Nippon Cargo, Polar Air Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo.

Large scale cargo facilities are located both on and off airport grounds with Alliance Air, the largest air cargo service company at ORD, handling much of the freight.

‘We handle many leading Asian carriers such as Korean, EVA Air, JAL, China Southern etc.,’ says Wayne Chen, director, the Greater China region.

Alliance Air. ‘As their service provider, or future business partner, we do our best to make their new operation in ORD simple and worry-free.’

Alliance Air’s custom-built 176,000 square foot on-airport facility, Cargo Building 517, has an annual capacity of 374.4 million pounds and is the second largest cargo building at ORD. It has 42 docks, six main deck workstations, six scissor lifts and separate import and export roller systems. Thirty-seven video cameras provide constant monitoring of all warehouse activities and access points. It is US Customs bonded, and features full electronic and video security.

‘We see the frequency of our Asian customers business increasing, and several new Asian carriers have been preparing for service between Chicago and Asian gateways, especially from China,’ states Chen.

The City of Chicago continues to strengthen trade ties with China, which will boost activity at ORD. On Feb. 15, 2007, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced the opening of the Chicago Development Office in Shanghai that will house the Chicago China Development Corporation (CCDC). The CCDC will help Chinese companies expand into the United States and will assist Chicago companies in China. The office will also serve as a resource for Chicago’s small and medium-sized companies entering the China mark