Delta returning to Shanghai

By Maria Saporta
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Delta Air Lines Inc. will resume non-stop flights between Atlanta and Shanghai — an aviation link considered critical in growing business relationships between Georgia and China.

Delta (NYSE: DAL) announced Tuesday the Atlanta-Shanghai flights as part of a larger announcement of its summer 2011 international air service.

The Atlanta-Shanghai service will begin June 5, 2011 and will operate twice a week using Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

“The resumption of service between Atlanta and Shanghai is the latest demonstration of the key role Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport plays in Delta’s global network,” said Richard Anderson, Delta CEO, in a statement. “Our longstanding partnership with the city of Atlanta has enabled us to establish our No. 1 international gateway here, building economic and cultural ties between Atlanta and cities across the globe.”

Delta had begun non-stop service between Atlanta and Shanghai on March 30, 2008 after being authorized by the U.S. Department of Transportation in September, 2007 that it could fly to China from Hartsfield-Jackson.

But its Shanghai flight was suspended during September 2009 because of the global recession that reduced the number of business travelers flying between Atlanta and China. In addition to the recession, the Asian airline industry was impacted by an outbreak of the H1N1 flu, causing travelers to change their plans.

The cancellation of the nonstop service to China ended up being quite a letdown for those who had celebrated the initiation of the Atlanta-Shanghai service in 2008.

Delta had beat out two other airlines — Northwest and United Airlines — when it won the rights from the U.S. DOT to fly to Shanghai. Delta’s case for service had strong support with a petition signed by 12 governors, 27 mayors and a host of Southeastern business leaders.

Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam A. Williams noted Delta has added 40 new international destinations from Atlanta since 2003.

“China is integral to our global commerce strategy,” he said in a statement. “The return of this Shanghai route shows Delta’s continued investment in Atlanta and Georgia. This route is critical to growing our city’s international presence…”

Delta’s other international service changes for 2011:

Applied with U.S. DOT for permission to begin new nonstop service between its Detroit hub and Beijing five times a week.

Applied to begin new nonstop service between its hub at Tokyo-Narita and Guangzhou, China.

Service will be expanded for the peak travel season between Tokyo-Narita and Manila, Philippines.

New service between New York-JFK and Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland starts in June.

Expanded service between Pittsburgh and Paris.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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