Wow, what a change from their toxic relationship of a few years earlier. Back in September, we reported that Delta’s CEO told reporters that the airline’s re-established partnership with Korean Air Lines could turn into a joint venture. He responded “we’re always talking”, when asked about a deeper relationship with the carrier. Well the plans are certainly in place now and Korean may finally be moving to Group 1 from Delta’s “rejected” Group 4 partners that earn no MQMs or MQDs.
The airlines signed a memorandum of understanding to implement a joint venture arrangement, which will offer customers access to the most comprehensive route network, industry-leading airline products, world-class airport facilities and a seamless customer experience.
Highlights of the agreement, subject to regulatory approvals, include:
- The intent to create a fully integrated trans-Pacific joint venture arrangement, with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues on flights and coordinating schedules for seamless, convenient connections.
- A combined network, serving more than 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia, providing customers of both airlines with more travel choices than ever before.
- Enhanced frequent flyer benefits, providing customers of both airlines the ability to earn and redeem miles on Delta’s Sky Miles and Korean Air’s SKYPASS programs.
“This agreement deepens our longstanding partnership with Korean Air and will provide the global access and seamless service our customers demand,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We look forward to providing customers of both carriers with industry-leading service between the U.S. and Asia.”
“This Joint Venture will benefit our customers by providing more convenient connection schedules and widen their opportunities in earning mileages,” said Korean Air’s Chairman and CEO, Yang Ho Cho. “With this agreement, we will reinforce Incheon airport’s position as a major international hub in North East Asia and support the growth of Korea’s aviation industry.”
Upon the signing of the final joint venture arrangement, Delta and Korean Air will work together to implement all aspects of the enhanced co-operation including expanded codesharing, frequent flyer programs and joint growth in the trans-Pacific market, with co-location at key hubs with seamless passenger and baggage transit experience.
Delta will be launching new nonstop service between Atlanta and Seoul in June 2017, a flight that complements Korean Air’s existing service, providing customers in the U.S. with greater access to destinations across Asia.
At the same time Korean Air will continue to expand its U.S. – Korea network in summer 2017 with the introduction of a third roundtrip between Los Angeles and Seoul, as well as a second flight between San Francisco and Seoul.