Delta Airlines to start LA-Beijing flights

Updated: 2016-03-23 09:26

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York(China Daily USA)

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Delta Airlines to start LA-Beijing flights

The Delta Airlines plane in this January 2, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Delta Airlines Inc plans to begin daily non-stop service between Los Angeles and Beijing by the end of the year, pending US Department of Transportation and foreign government approval.

Delta will be the only carrier to offer service to both Beijing and Shanghai from Los Angeles. Delta said in a statement that Los Angeles is the largest market for service to Asia and drives 21 percent of all US-Asia demand.

"Delta's new nonstop service to Beijing continues our expansion in China, providing our business customers with access to Beijing and beyond through our partnerships with the market's leading carriers, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines," Ranjan Goswami, Delta's vice-president of sales-west, said in a statement.

In 2015, Delta said it would invest $450 million for a 3.6 percent stake in China Eastern Airlines, the mainland's second-largest airline. The investment made Delta the first major US airline to own part of a Chinese airline.

Delta's Los Angeles-Beijing flight will offer connections to more than 39 cities in China, including Chengdu, Shenyang, Qingdao, Xi'an and Hangzhou on SkyTeam partners China Eastern and China Southern, while the Los Angeles-bound Beijing flight will offer connections to Denver, Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon, Phoenix and San Diego, as well as 35 other markets in the US, Canada and Latin America.

Delta's expansion continues a trend that saw the addition of 75 weekly nonstop flights between China and the US last year, a more than 30 percent increase from 2014. Six of the eight airlines that provide direct US-China services opened new routes in 2015, adding to their fast-growing schedules while some expanded service to China's second-tier cities.

The new Delta service also coincides with the launch of the 2016 US-China Tourism Year in February. Throughout the year, the US Department of Commerce and the China National Tourism Administration, in collaboration with other partners, will host events and activities to promote travel between the two countries. An estimated 2 million Americans have visited China annually in recent years while 2.5 million Chinese traveled to the US in 2015.

The US-China Tourism Year came about after President Xi Jinping's state visit to the US last September.