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US Government Picks United for First Non-Stop China Route

The U.S. has tentatively awarded United Airlines the right to operate a non-stop daily flight between Washington and China's capital of Beijing.

If the Department of Transportation decision receives final approval, the U.S.-based air carrier could start flying the route - between Washington Dulles International Airport and Beijing's China Peking Capital Airport - as early as March 25.

United Airlines' key sales pitch to federal regulators was that its route would be the first non-stop service linking the capitals of the two countries. The company also had the backing of a coalition of former senior government officials and business groups.

United beat three other U.S. carriers (American, Continental and Northwest) in its bid for the route.

Its competitors have 14 days to file an objection to the Department of Transportation's decision. If objections are filed, the department has seven more days to review the objections and make a final decision.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.