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) -- With transpacific unit revenue growing at a 54% clip,



said that next year it will add Asia service including non-stop Detroit/Beijing and Atlanta/Shanghai routes.

Delta applied Tuesday for Detroit/Beijing the route, which requires approval by the U.S. Transportation Department. Flights would operate five days a week starting July 1. Delta also flies from Detroit to Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Last month, the DOT took

just one day to approve



application for Los Angeles-Shanghai service. Earlier, it took six days to approve



application for the same route.

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Additionally, Delta said it will resume twice weekly Atlanta-Shanghai flights starting June 5. The service, launched in 2008, was suspended in 2009 due to weak demand. Delta said "further expansion

is possible based on performance." Both the Detroit and Atlanta flights would be flown by Boeing 777-200s.

Delta also applied to the DOT for non-stop flights between Tokyo Narita and Guangzhou, China's third largest city. This is another case where service was suspended in 2009. Guangzhou is a hub for

China Southern

, a Delta partner in SkyTeam, while Delta operates a hub at Narita.

"International business travel demand is the underpinning of the global economic recovery," said Glen Hauenstein, executive vice president for network planning, in a prepared statement. He noted that "Delta is strongly positioned for future Asian growth thanks to our industry-leading alliances in the region." By 2012,

China Eastern


Shanghai Airlines


China Airlines

will join SkyTeam. Currently, Korean Air is the alliance's largest member in Asia.

American and United both have Japanese partners who operate Narita hubs, but the Oneworld alliance lacks a mainland China airline.

Air China

is a member of the Star alliance.

In the transatlantic, Delta has announced new service to London Heathrow from Boston and Miami, effective March 26. To feed the Miami flights, Delta is adding five daily flights to Orlando, four daily flights to Jacksonville and five daily flights to Tampa. This will heighten competition for American at its Miami hub. Delta partners AirFrance/KLM and Alitalia offer service from Miami to Paris, Amsterdam, Milan and Rome.

Also, on January 20 Delta will add service from Atlanta to Luanda, Angola, its eighth destination in Africa. The flight will stop in Dakar.

Delta intends to expand capacity between 1% and 3% in 2011, consistent with projected global economic growth.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here:

Ted Reed