Business briefs: Direct flights to China increase

United Airlines (UAUA) was awarded the right to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Guangzhou in 2008, it was announced Tuesday. Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) will fly from Atlanta to Shanghai, the first nonstop route from the Southeast for a U.S. airline. Contintental Airlines (CAL) was awarded a New York-to-Shanghai route and Northwest Airlines (NWA) a Detroit-to-Shanghai route.

Virgin America

The Burlingame-based start-up airline partly owned by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson may order “a couple of dozen’’ Airbus SAS jets by 2010, Chief Executive Officer Fred Reid said. The twin-engine A319 or A320 planes would be in addition to 31 existing aircraft orders and five options that Virgin America will use. The new orders may come as soon as the second half of 2008, he said.

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