Delta Air Lines will invest a sum of US$450 million into China Eastern Airlines, in return for a 3.55 per cent stake in its fellow Skyteam member carrier.
The deal represents a step forward in the partnership between both airlines, which will allow them to compete more effectively on routes between the US and China and provide more travel options for customers.
“The cooperation between China Eastern and Delta is a strategic cooperation between two excellent airlines that connect the world’s two top economies as well as two top air transportation markets,” said Shaoyong Liu, chairman of China Eastern.
China Eastern, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Shanghai Airlines, and Delta already codeshare on some 30 domestic routes within the US, as well as seven trans-Pacific routes between China and the US.
Passengers that have travelled with Delta to Shanghai may be aware that the carrier recently moved its operations to Terminal 1, alongside China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines. According to Vinay Dube, Delta’s senior vice president of Asia-Pacific, this move gives customers of all three airlines the convenience of connecting in a single terminal.
“[We] share a commitment to exceptional service and we’ll make more moves like this as our partnership develops. It will become seamless for customers to book travel that spans both carriers. That move alone will multiply the number of cities inside both countries that are now easily connected.”
In addition, Delta will be entitled to an observer seat on the China Eastern board of directors, enabling the US carrier to receive all information provided to members of the board. This does not however include voting power.
Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive 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.”