With the stoke of a pen, China Eastern, Virgin Atlantic, Air France & KLM have decided to shake up the airline industry. The carriers recently announced a joint venture to increase flight options for customers between Europe and China. Growing this cooperation is key to China Eastern’s European goals.
China Eastern which already had a joint venture with Air France and KLM wanted to add Virgin Atlantic to offer strengthened customer benefits including increased travel options and optimized connectivity across Europe and China.
The China to United Kingdom markets are expected to grow with this deal. China Eastern plans to seek to codeshares for the first time on Virgin Atlantic services between London and Shanghai which will open up a range of customer benefits, including the opportunity for customers to earn and redeem miles across both carriers on flights between China and United Kingdom.
Tian Liuwen, EVP China Eastern Group explained, “China Eastern and Air France-KLM have maintained a long-term and stable strategic cooperation, which have provided a strong support for each other’s services between China and Europe. With Virgin Atlantic’s joining, the cooperation will develop to a higher level enabling us to deliver more quality products and services for customers between China and Europe.”
China Eastern Air Holding Co. Ltd is one of the three major air transportation groups in China and was the first Chinese airline to be listed on New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets in 1997. It operates a fleet of 750 passenger and cargo aircraft, which is one of the youngest fleets in the world.
As a member of SkyTeam Alliance, China Eastern has extended its flight network from its core hub in Shanghai to 1,150 cities in 175 countries with SkyTeam Alliance member airlines. It serves over 1.3 million travelers annually and ranks top 10 in the world.
The China Eastern joint venture with European carriers will further help the airline grow in the EU and UK markets.