Just a day after American Airlines announced an equity investment in China Southern Airlines, Delta said it intends to create another transpacific joint venture partnership – this one with Korean Air.
Delta and Korean have been partners in the SkyTeam alliance since its inception two decades ago. And last September, they announced a significant expansion of code-sharing to more routes. That includes putting Delta’s code onto KAL’s San Francisco-Seoul and Houston-Seoul flights, and Korean’s onto the Atlanta-Seoul flights that Delta will start June 3 (Korean already serves that market with its own flight).
But the joint venture – if it wins government approval – goes well beyond that. If they win the requested immunity from antitrust laws, Delta and Korean will be able to coordinate flight schedules and pricing, and share costs and revenues.
Delta said the joint venture will bring “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.”
Once the agreement is approved, the airlines said, they will start working on expanded code-sharing, frequent flyer program integration, “and joint growth in the transpacific market, with co-location at key hubs with seamless passenger and baggage transit experience.”
In addition to Delta’s new ATL-Seoul service, Korean this summer plans to add a third daily Los Angeles-Seoul flight and a second one between San Francisco and Seoul.
Delta is getting to be an old hand at creating joint venture partnerships. It already has transatlantic joint ventures with Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM/Alitalia, a transpacific arrangement with Virgin Australia, and it recently won approval for a joint venture with Aeromexico.
The Delta-Korean partnership will cover a combined network of more than 80 destinations in Asia and 290 in the Americas, Delta noted.