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Delta raises competition with Korean Air

Delta Air Lines will seek mutual growth with Korean Air, one of its partners in the SkyTeam global alliance, by capitalizing on friendly competition with South Korea’s largest airline company after the U.S. carrier launches a new daily nonstop service from Seoul to Seattle this Tuesday.

“With any airline partnership, a bit of overlap in services and a bit of competition are inevitable,” said Jeffrey Bernier, Delta Air Lines managing director for the Asia-Pacific region at a press conference on Monday.

Even though the two airlines may service the same route, there are plenty of ways to give customers room to exercise their preference, according to Delta, which was the most profitable U.S. airline in 2013.

“In a way, we are merely offering an additional option for customers. We view Korean Air as our partner and we have great antitrust immunities in the United States, so in the big picture, we anticipate that this will ... rather strengthen our partnership,” said Bernier.

“But we welcome cooperative competition and I feel that we actually have superior and premium services to offer for this particular market, including flat-bed business seats and the Economy Comfort class,” he added.

Delta will service the Seoul-Seattle route via its Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which has 35 seats in BusinessElite, 32 seats in Economy Comfort and 143 seats in regular Economy.

“Economy Comfort is our coach class that has 4 inches of extra legroom and up to 50 percent more recline,” said Bernier.

“Our market research revealed that we needed further segmentation of our seating classes. While there are people who prefer to fly economy class and also those who can afford to ride business, there was a great demand from those who wanted something in between, which is what the Economy Comfort class offers,” he said.

This new service to Seattle is the air carrier’s second nonstop daily flight out of Seoul ― the other flying to Detroit ― and it will allow Delta to provide customers with nonstop flights to the flight hub of the West Coast just as Detroit has served as one for the East.

By Kim Joo-hyun (jhk@heraldcorp.com)
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