Delta Air Lines and China Eastern Airlines have signed an agreement to expand their partnership, it was announced today.
As part of the deal, Delta has invested $450 million in China Eastern in return for a 3.55 per cent stake in the airline, becoming the first US carrier to own part of a Chinese airline.
The Skyteam members claim the move will result in their competing "more effectively on routes between the US and China, provide more travel options for customers in both countries and make joint investments in the customer experience".
The two carriers already have a codeshare agreement in place, currently operating on 30 domestic US routes, 43 domestic China routes and seven transpacific routes between the US and China.
Delta CEO Richard Anderson said: "Delta's relationship with China Eastern is long-standing. We share a vision that will create the most profitable, enduring franchise between the US and China, with world-class customer service."
Shaoyong Liu, China Eastern CEO, added: "[Both airlines] will take advantage of their respective route networks, flight services, relevant businesses and advantageous resources to fully connect the world's two top economies as well as two top air transportation markets."
Earlier this year, Delta moved from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 at Shanghai Pudong airport to allow it to work more closely with its China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiary Shanghai Airlines, providing easier transfers for passengers (see news, April 14).