Delta & Korea Air Trans-Pacific Joint Venture Approved DOT

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (usually referred to as DOT) approved the proposed trans-Pacific joint venture between Delta Air Lines and Korean Air.

Korean Air Pilot Strike October 1 – 7, 2017

The airlines, if also approved by the Korean authorities, will share the cost and revenues of the flights covered by the agreement and extend the codeshares they already have in place. Delta could start by making Korean Air flights elite qualifying (currently they are not).

Here are the current SkyMiles earnings for Korean Air flights:

Delta KE

Here’s the press release from Delta:

Today, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air took a significant step in the creation of their trans-Pacific joint venture with approval of the joint venture by the U.S. Department of Transportation.   

The DOT approval reflects the consumer benefits that will be created by the new joint venture. The two carriers will deepen their relationship, offering customers in the U.S. and Asia an enhanced and expanded flight network as well as more compelling travel options. The airlines have also applied for approval for the joint venture from the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

“We thank the DOT for approving this world-class partnership, which will create more choices, frequencies and destinations for customers traveling between the key markets in the U.S. and Asia,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to offering our customers the leading customer experience across the Pacific, with seamless connections, world class facilities and amenities on the ground and in the air, as well as substantial frequent flyer benefits.”

The joint venture will create 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. The joint venture will provide both airlines with the expanded scale and scope to offer new alternatives to customers. The two airlines will also expand codeshare flights on trans-Pacific routes.  Customers will benefit from enhanced frequent flyer benefits, providing customers of both airlines the ability to earn and redeem miles on Delta’s SkyMiles and Korean Air’s SKYPASS program.  In addition, co-location at key airports including Incheon Terminal 2 which will provide customers with a seamless connection and baggage transit experience. Under the agreement, the airlines will share costs and revenues on flights within the scope of the joint venture as they work to expand service options for travelers.

In anticipation of the joint venture, Delta launched new nonstop service between Atlanta and Seoul earlier this year. This flight complements Korean Air’s existing service and provides customers in the U.S. with greater access to destinations across Asia. Korean Air operates to 10 gateways in the U.S. while Delta has three gateways from Seoul along with nonstop service to six other gateways in Asia. The new joint venture provides U.S. travelers with more options when flying to Asia.

Delta has a 25-year track record of partnering closely with airlines around the globe, beginning with the first successful trans-Atlantic partnership, when Northwest and KLM launched their joint venture in 1993. Today, Delta has seven partnerships with leading carriers in the biggest aviation markets in the world that are either joint ventures, equity investments, or both – spanning Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Through these deep relationships and immunized joint ventures, Delta has successfully achieved many of the benefits of cross-border cooperation for customers.


I like transiting in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok where it is also easy to take a short stopovers simultaneously. Not so in Seoul where Incheon airport is faraway from the city itself and immigration at times is a huge mess (issue we have covered here on LoyaltyLobby).

Delta certainly had a change of heart essentially moving an “enemy airline” from within the SkyTeam alliance to a joint venture partner if arrangement is approved by Korea

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