Delta Air Lines & Korean Air Sign Joint Venture MOU For Trans-Pacific Travel

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Delta Air Lines and Korean Air today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create joint venture for trans-pacific travel.

Delta Air Lines & Korea Air MOU

Joint venture, if approved, means that the airlines would pool the revenues and costs while coordinating flights, destinations and prices.

You can access Delta’s announcement for this MOU here.

What is interesting here is the fact that Korean Air is currently SkyMiles Group 4 partner airline. You neither earn Elite Qualifying Miles nor Dollars for flights operated by Korean Air:

Delta Air Lines & Korea Air MOU Korean Group 4 U

Delta Air Lines & Korea Air MOU Korean Group 4 Details

Here’s the Delta’s press release:

Airlines agree to implement a joint venture arrangement that will grow trans-Pacific network, enhance customer benefits

Delta Air Lines and Korean Air have reached an agreement to deepen their historic partnership, with an expanded trans-Pacific network that will increase travel choices and boost competition between the U.S. and Asia.

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.

Conclusion

At least the partnership here is within an alliance instead of an airline from another like is the case with recent partnerships with Oneworld’s Cathay Pacific and Star Alliance airlines of Air New Zealand, Air Canada and Lufthansa Group.

I would assume that Korean Air will move in due course from Group 4 partner airlines (leftovers that Delta apparently hates) to Group 1.

Not sure what I would think of transiting more in Seoul. I really like Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong where getting from the airport to the city center and back is very easy. I tend to break trips and have long transits or stopovers. This is not very convenient in Seoul where the airport is in Incheon more than an hour away from the city.

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  • LlamaOfDoom

    In which case I imagine this is the final nail in the coffin for the Narita hub.

    • Delta has already downsized it significantly. I would assume that they would try to fly to as many destinations as possible direct from the West Coast and tunnel rest through their partners such as Korean.