WASHINGTON -- Lufthansa German Airlines will fly between its European hub in Frankfurt, West Germany, and Charlotte, N.C., Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner announced Tuesday.
Renewal of the carrier's authorization to fly over a 179-day period is contingent upon a favorable resolution of a pricing dispute with the West German government, Skinner said at a news conference.
The West Germans regulate tariffs on all flights from their territory, whereas the U.S. government favors pricing deregulation. Skinner voiced his hope that the dispute could be resolved.
In the event that progress on the issue was reported but no solution reached at the end of the 179-day trial period, the Transportation Department could grant additional flying time to the Germans, officials said.
According to a department release, 'in the more liberal pricing regime the United States seeks, U.S. carriers would be able to set fares for flights originating in Germany without control or disapproval by the German government.'
Charlotte Mayor Sue Myrick noted at the news conference that the city has attracted a large number of German investments and German nationals, mainly in textile and textile-related industries such as dyeing and machinery.
Thomas J. Orr, aviation director at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, told reporters that there are also contacts with two other international carriers, Alitalia and Swissair, for service to Rome and Zurich, respectively.
Lufthansa must begin service to Charlotte within 90 days.
The Transportation Department said that it has dismissed Lufthansa's request to provide service between Frankfurt and Portland, Ore., and Tampa, Fla., after it was advised by the West German government that the carrier had no immediate plans to begin such flights.
Skinner said that Lufthansa's award is the third under a new program to permit foreign carriers to serve a greater number of U.S. cities.
On March 27, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was authorized to fly between Amsterdam and Baltimore, a service that will begin this week, the secretary said. Earlier this month, the department approved the Chilean carrier Ladeco S.A.'s request to fly between Santiago, Chile, and Washington, D.C.
Swissar has applied to provide service between Zurich and Philadelphia. The application could be approved within a month, Skinner said.