Weeks before the announced May 6, 2018, pullout of Delta Air Lines from Saipan and Palau, a joint venture agreement with Korean Air was sealed to accommodate travelers from the Micronesia region and connect them to the U.S. mainland.
Masaru Morimoto, Delta vice president for Japan, Micronesia, and the Philippines, said that Delta Air Lines is committed to serving the CNMI.
“The new joint venture with Korean Air will allow us to link the CNMI with same day connectivity to the continental U.S. through the brand-new Incheon Airport Terminal 2 featuring the best-in-class amenities,” he added.
To avail of this, though, travelers from Saipan and Palau must travel to Guam first.
According to Hiroko Okada, from the corporate communications department of Delta Air Lines, although Korean Air currently does not serve the Saipan market, they are looking for ways to make it possible.
“On Saipan, Korean Air does not serve the market. However, we are investigating other options for connecting Saipan to our network. We do not have details to share at present but we’ll let you know when we have something,” she said.
“In Guam, we have already loaded Delta code shares on Guam and Incheon and Guam and Busan with convenient, same-day connectivity with the continental U.S. through Incheon Airport Terminal 2,” she added.
Marie Lizama, sales manager for Delta Guam, speaking in front of business leaders at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce general membership meeting earlier this month, said the joint venture is already in place.
“You just need to check with your travel agency and this may not be on the website but your agency should be able to price that on their local/global distribution system,” she added.
Delta’s decision to end its flight service to Saipan and Palau in February was due to “unsustainable pressure” including lower demand in the Micronesia market. The announcement came a month after the airline discontinued its flight service between Narita and Guam.
Okada assured SkyMiles members that Korean Air will accommodate them.
“SkyMiles can be used and earned on Korean Air, and soon will benefit from MQM (earned miles on Delta marketed flights) earning as well, through our new joint venture,” she added.