Delta Air Lines said it aims to become the first choice for passengers in the China-US flights market. Credit: File photo.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, the airline with the top sales globally, said this week that in March 2020, it will move both of its two direct daily flights from Beijing to Detroit and Seattle to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, China Daily reported.

Delta is continuously investing in upgrading the travel experience and deploying its latest aircraft in the global China-US network, and it has not seen any significant fluctuations as a result of the Sino-US trade dispute. The relocation will come along with its partner China Eastern Airlines.

Shanghai-based State-owned China Eastern is expected to move most of its flights, except for the Beijing-Shanghai route, to the Daxing airport in the first quarter of 2020. Back in 2015, Delta invested US$450 million to acquire a 3.55% stake in China Eastern.

“We look forward to moving to our new home in Beijing. The brand-new Daxing airport will provide us with a great opportunity to better serve the growing needs of our customers in China,” said Wong Hong, president of Delta Air Lines for China and Singapore.

Delta said it aims to become the first choice for passengers in the China-US flights market. In the past decade, the company has seen its China-US non-stop flights grow by more than eight times in terms of seat capacity. From 2017 to 2019, the total seats on the China-US flights of Delta increased by more than 20%, the company said.

“For the China-US market, we have not seen any significant changes in the booking patterns, but we are always observing the situation. China continues to be an important market for Delta’s long-term growth,” Wong said.

“Our equity partnership with China Eastern positions us well as the China-US market continues to evolve and expand. We believe a healthy and stable trade relationship between the two nations will benefit the people from both sides, and the business communities,” he said.

Delta said sales of most of its China-US flights have remained stable, and the occupancy rate has been more than 80%. Currently, Delta operates six daily direct flights between the two countries, with two connecting Beijing and four connecting Shanghai with Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The carrier is also deploying its latest aircraft models in the China-US network, such as B777, A350 and A330-900neo.

Meanwhile, at a time when many domestic carriers have reduced their investment in in-flight catering services, Delta started to upgrade its food and services for economy class passengers on international long-haul flights starting from Nov 1. The new service, a multi-billion dollar investment, features welcome cocktails, hot towels, bistro-style dining and better tableware.

“The shift of consumer preference from goods to services, especially experiential services, continues to grow, particularly in the international travel sector,” Wong said.

Meanwhile, according to Flight Global, China Southern Airlines has taken its partnership with British Airways up a notch, entering into a joint venture agreement with the Oneworld alliance member.

The wide-ranging partnership will cover codesharing, frequent flyer programmes, as well as passenger benefits, says China Southern.

At the onset, the codesharing agreement will cover 14 domestic and international UK and Chinese routes.

BA will put its code on China Southern-operated flights between Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan, Zhengzhou and London. China Southern, meanwhile, will codeshare BA’s London-Beijing Daxing, as well as London-Shanghai Pudong flights.

Domestically, BA will put its code on China Southern’s flights out of Shanghai Pudong to Harbin, Shenyang and Changchun. In turn, China Southern’s code will be placed on flights from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Belfast.

BA was also the first international carrier to move operations to Beijing Daxing airport, in a move to develop its partnership with China Southern, which will base its entire Beijing operations at the new airport.

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