Delta Air Lines strengthened its case before the U.S. Department of Transportation to introduce the first and only nonstop flights between China and the U.S. Southeast.In an answer filed with the DOT addressing competing applications, Delta urged the DOT to select its application because:
* Delta would be a new entrant and new competition should be
encouraged. If entrenched carriers United and Northwest are
awarded additional service to China in 2009, 75 percent of
service between the U.S. and China will be operated by these two
airlines. Delta, meanwhile, will bring new competition and
service from a new gateway that will likely result in lower fares
and better service for more consumers.
* The Southeastern United States is critically underserved, and
will remain so unless Delta is awarded rights to serve China from
Atlanta. The Southeast region’s population of 65 million is larger
than the population of any other U.S. region that currently enjoys
nonstop service to China and is projected to grow at a faster rate
than any other region.
* Atlanta, the world’s largest airline hub, would be a powerful new
gateway to China, connecting more underserved communities to China
than any other proposed gateway with more than 1,000 daily
“No matter the competition, Delta’s proposal is far superior to those of our competitors and will deliver the greatest benefit to the flying public,” said Delta Chief Operating Officer Jim Whitehurst. “Our proposed nonstop service from the world’s largest airline hub in Atlanta to Shanghai and Beijing will fill a critical void in air travel today by providing the 65 million residents of the Southeast with direct access to the world’s fastest growing economy.”
Delta’s “Next Gateway to China” campaign, which launched officially on June 21, has already won broad support from elected officials, business leaders and the traveling public across the Southeast. In less than a month, more than 30,000 new supporters have signed Delta’s online petition at www.nextgatewaytochina.com .
Additionally, Delta’s application has the support of a broad coalition of elected officials, business leaders, trade associations and tourism organizations, including 10 U.S. representatives, two U.S. senators, 12 governors, 17 state legislators, 28 mayors and county executives, 16 business and tourism organizations, 59 Southeastern-based companies and 13 Chinese professional associations.
Delta plans to provide daily nonstop service between Atlanta and China 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.