Delta Air Lines filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer customers the first and only nonstop flights between Atlanta and Shanghai. The application officially launches Delta’s case for entry into the U.S.-China market under the 2004 U.S.-China Air Services Agreement.
“Delta is without question the best choice for the next airline designation to China,” said Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein. “As the airline serving more worldwide destinations than any other carrier and as the steward of the world’s largest airline hub in Atlanta, we are confident that this new route will provide a significant boost to trade and tourism worldwide and unparalleled access for customers traveling to and from China.
“Delta’s new flights to Shanghai will also fill a critical void in air travel today—the lack of service between the Southeastern United States and China and the lack of U.S. carrier service between the Eastern U.S. and Shanghai—by providing improved access for customers in more than 130 destinations across the United States,” Grinstein said.
Delta’s service would provide a much-needed link between fast-growing communities in the Southeastern U.S. and economies across mainland China. In the filing, Delta proposes to provide customers with daily, year-round nonstop service between Atlanta and Shanghai, beginning March 25, 2008.
“Delta’s filing is just the latest in a long line of good news coming from our hometown airline,” Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said. “Delta’s international focus is a tremendous complement to our new Global Georgia initiative, and in particular, the opening of our office in China this year. We will continue to support this great Georgia company as it connects our state to new destinations across the world, boosting Georgia’s economic development and tourism efforts.”
The 55 million people in the Southeastern United States are dramatically underserved in terms of nonstop and one-stop service to China. Delta stands ready to fill this void by offering the world’s first nonstop service from the Southeast via Atlanta by 2008, and is actively working with government, civic and business leaders on both continents to make it happen. This includes providing technical aviation assistance to the Chinese in the areas of air traffic services and flight routing, working with numerous Chinese organizations to lay the groundwork for a successful service launch, attending multiple conferences and workshops focused on China air service in the U.S. and assisting in establishing a consular office for Atlanta in China.
“China is one of the most significant export markets for Georgia and the Southeastern United States. We will continue to strengthen our relationship with the People’s Republic of China to help us achieve our long-term goals of winning the next consulate, new passenger air routes and new business,” said Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. “Delta Air Lines—Atlanta’s hometown carrier—combined with the strength of the world’s largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is well positioned to provide positive customer and economic benefits with the new nonstop service to Shanghai.”
Delta has been active in the China market since 1987 and continues to expand its presence to serve this growing market. In September 2006, Delta opened its third China sales office in Shanghai, complementing existing offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.
“Delta’s application for nonstop service between Atlanta and Shanghai will link for the first time the capital of the New South with the business and financial capital of Asia. The Southeast has long been denied nonstop access to China, and I look forward to working to ensure the Department of Transportation maintains its precedent of opening new gateways to underserved areas of the country,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Added U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, “This new route to China from Atlanta will greatly benefit Georgia, and it will be a particular boon to my congressional district, which is home to more Delta employees than any other. With the Chinese market growing rapidly, there will be a growing demand for these routes. Increasing travel between Atlanta and Shanghai will make Georgia an even more attractive place to locate a business. Given the fact that access for U.S. carriers to Chinese markets is still very limited, this new route puts our region at a distinct advantage when it comes to doing business with China. As the only Georgian on the House Transportation Committee and its Aviation Subcommittee, I’ll continue to support efforts such as this that open up great opportunities for Georgia.”
Delta would provide daily nonstop service between Atlanta and Shanghai using its flagship Boeing 777 aircraft in a two-class configuration featuring BusinessElite, Delta’s award-winning business class service. Additionally, Delta plans to introduce fully horizontal lie-flat seats on its Boeing 777 fleet beginning in 2008, with new in-seat entertainment system offering on-demand, digital video and music at every suite and a reclining seat that adjusts to multiple comfort positions, including a completely flat surface that offers customers a 6-foot 3-inch bed.
“Direct air routes are critical to building global commerce, and we applaud Delta’s longtime commitment to opening doors for Atlanta around the world. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce fully supports Delta Air Lines in its quest to win a direct air route between Atlanta and Shanghai, China’s business center,” said Sam A. Williams, president, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. “Delta is well positioned to compete for a designation to serve China in 2008, and we look forward to working with them and other key partners to win this route.”
Delta looks forward to expanding its cooperation with codeshare partner and future SkyTeam member China Southern to connect passengers beyond Shanghai to numerous other business and tourist destinations throughout China.
Delta’s flagship hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s largest airline hub. Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer nearly 1,000 peak-day departures to 243 nonstop destinations from Atlanta—more nonstop flights and destinations than any airline hub in the world. Delta’s Atlanta hub is one of the fastest growing international gateways in the United States, with more than 20 new international markets added in the last year. Atlanta is the home of Delta’s largest international hub with flights to 72 international destinations in 45 countries.