With China set to be the world’s largest air market within the next decade, two major American carriers are looking ahead with new partnerships to expand their presence in the region.
On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air announced that they will apply for regulatory approvals for a joint venture to share costs, sales and schedules, and increase codesharing.
If all goes well, their combined network will cover 290 destinations in the Americans and 80 in Asia.
China will be the world’s biggest air travel market by 2024, with the number of people flying to, from and within China reaching 927 million annually (almost double the 487 million in 2015).
Delta was the first American carrier to ever invest in a Chinese airline when it acquired a 3.6% stake of China Eastern in 2015.
Just hours before Delta’s announcement this week, America announced a $200-million investment in China Southern Airlines, the fourth-largest airline in the world in domestic passenger traffic. The two carriers plan to start codesharing and offering interline agreements later this year, and also will combine their frequent-flyer programs.
The agreement will give travelers "an unmatched range of destinations in two critical markets for business and leisure travelers,” they said. ?
Both announcements are further evidence of the rapid growth of the Asian travel market. Experts say that the region will not only have the world’s largest cruise market by 2026, but according to the IATA, China will be the world’s biggest air travel market by 2024, with the number of people flying to, from and within China reaching 927 million annually (almost double the 487 million in 2015).