The A350 jet of Delta Air Lines, the first U.S. airline to take delivery
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said it has seen rapid growth in China in the past few years, and the carrier is highly bullish on the potential of the air routes between China and the United States.
Delta said its demand in China is growing much more than it is in the U.S., and China has become a key part of the airline's globalization plan. From 2009 to 2016, Delta saw its capacity growth on the China-U.S. route surge over 220 percent, and the sales grew at a similar pace.
"I have tons of confidence in the China market, and we are committed in China. We are not worried about the demand, we just need to make sure that we perform well and the rest will follow," said Vinay Dube, senior vice-president of Delta Air Lines, responsible for the Asia-Pacific region.
"Delta strives to be the most Chinese-friendly U.S. airline in China," added Dube.
Currently, Delta serves direct China-U.S. flights between Beijing, Shanghai and its hub cities Seattle and Detroit, in addition to routes between Shanghai and Los Angeles. The carrier said it doesn't have plans to launch direct flights between second-tier Chinese cities and major U.S. cities in the near term.
"So far, our strategy of concentrating on Beijing and Shanghai is working well. We rely on our Chinese partners like China Eastern and China Southern to help us to serve the secondary cities in China, and we plan to deepen our cooperation with them, for example, to improve the code share cooperation," Dube said.
Meanwhile, Delta said it plans to use A350-a new wide-body aircraft produced by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group SE -for some of its routes between China and the U.S..
When it comes to customer service on its flights, Dube said Delta aims to be thoughtful, innovative and reliable. In less than one year, the company would be the world's first airline to equip privacy dividers for its business-class seats and create a suite concept, which is typically reserved for first-class seats.
In October, Delta announced that it completed installation of in-flight Wi-Fi on its entire long-haul international fleet, and it charges for a 24-hour Wi-Fi pass. As the only U.S. carrier that has done so, Delta said so far it has seen a growing demand of using Wi-Fi on its flights.
A recent report shows that the demand of in-flight Wi-Fi has reached a new high among passengers in the Asia-Pacific, and 90 percent of the surveyed in the region said the availability of onboard connectivity would influence their choice of airlines, according to Inmarsat, a London-based provider of global satellite communication services.
Chinese passengers are highly likely to use in-flight Wi-Fi, as the nation has the highest take-up of all the tested Asia-Pacific markets, and this signals strong opportunities for airlines in the China market, the report said.