Three years ago American Airlines got permission from China to fly between Beijing and Chicago. The service has been delayed several times, most recently because the Chinese government wanted American to use operating slots in the middle of the night. "Slots" is industry jargon for arrival and departure times. The service is now scheduled to begin May 25 and the slots are no longer in the middle of the night. They're late in the evening: 9:30 pm and 11:59 pm, Beijing time. That's according to the Dallas Morning News.
The bnet blog has a good overview of the situation.
Why does any of this matter to us? Because easy connectivity to Asia is increasingly important for economic development. The American Airlines service between Chicago and Beijing is great for us because it means you can fly from Springfield to Beijing with just one connection, through Chicago. When Asian companies come to the United States, looking for a place to set up shop, this is the sort of connectivity they look for. Another point...
The American Airline slots in Beijing can affect the price we pay to fly there. That's because United Airlines also flies from Springfield to Beijing, via Chicago. The airline that has the best slots will likely charge the highest fare.