United Airlines' bid to start a nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport to Shanghai hit major turbulence Tuesday after the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would recommend other U.S.-China routes proposed by competing airlines.

In an eagerly waited announcement, the Transportation Department said it approved two new U.S.-China flights that would start next year and recommended four more for 2009.

As expected, Delta Air Lines Inc., which currently has no nonstop flights to China, was approved to offer flights from Atlanta to Shanghai in 2008, and United won the right to start direct flights between San Francisco and Guangzhou next spring.

But Transportation Department officials declined to recommend Chicago-based United's proposal to start an LAX-Shanghai service in 2009. The UAL Corp. subsidiary would have been the first U.S. carrier to offer a direct flight to any city in China from LAX.

Instead, the federal agency proposed Chicago-Beijing service by American Airlines, Newark, N.J.-Shanghai service by Continental Airlines, Detroit-Shanghai flights by Northwest Airlines and a Philadelphia-Beijing route by US Airways.

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