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Originally published October 8, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Page modified October 9, 2012 at 9:38 AM

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Delta will add flights from Seattle to Asia

Delta expands partnership with Alaska Airlines to beef up service to Japan.

The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — Delta Air Lines wants to expand service to Asia through its partnership with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines.

Delta plans to add a flight between Seattle and Shanghai starting June 17. Delta, which is based in Atlanta, is also proposing a flight between Seattle and Tokyo-Haneda, Japan, set to begin in March.

By next summer, Delta plans to operate more than 40 daily flights to 15 destinations from Seattle. The city is the home base of Alaska Airlines’ parent company Alaska Air Group. The partnership with Alaska allows Delta to offer connecting service from Seattle to many other U.S. cities across both airlines’ networks.

Delta customers can access more than 50 markets through a connection in Seattle, while Alaska customers have access to about 60 U.S. cities served by Delta.

Delta will add a fifth daily nonstop flight between Seattle and New York’s JFK Airport starting June 1, giving travelers in both cities more opportunities to connect internationally. Those flights between New York and Seattle will offer BusinessElite service, with perks including shorter lines, early boarding, priority baggage service and lounge access.

From JFK, Delta flies to about 40 international destinations in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Delta canceled a plan to start flights to Haneda last year after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. Delta also made cutbacks in Japan service last year as traffic across the Pacific slowed.

Delta now operates nonstop service to Beijing, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.

Qatar Airways joins

Qatar Airways is joining an alliance of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways and nine other carriers that coordinate routes and allow passengers to earn frequent-flier miles on each other’s flights.

The inclusion in the Oneworld alliance — aimed at allowing passengers to hop around the globe easier — signals the growing importance of Persian Gulf carriers such as Doha-based Qatar.

“Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today — and that will continue long into the future,” Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said.

It will take 12 to 18 months for Qatar to join the alliance. Oneworld alliance competes with SkyTeam, a group of airlines including Delta Air Line, and the Star Team, which includes United Airlines and US Airways.

Frequent business travelers like alliances because they are able to earn and redeem frequent-flier miles with the partners, use alliance airport lounges and book complicated trips on one itinerary. A flier could travel on a Cathay Pacific, British Airways or Iberia flight and earn American Airlines miles for those flights.

Another rapidly expanding Gulf carrier, Etihad Airways, announced earlier Monday that it will start jointly marketing some of its flights with Air France-KLM, part of SkyTeam.

The deals, known as codeshares, allow passengers to buy a single ticket to fly on multiple airlines and are common in the airline industry. Carriers can expand their reach without having to launch or acquire the right to operate additional routes. For example, American Airlines and Iberia can sell tickets on a flight operated by British Airways as if the flight were their own.

The third big Gulf carrier, Dubai-based Emirates, recently signed a 10-year deal with Australia’s Qantas Airways. That spelled the end of a long-term relationship between the Australian carrier and British Airways.

Eithad and Emirates have yet to join one of the big three alliances. The inclusion of Qatar in Oneworld helps put the airline — which isn’t well known in North America — on the map on the continent.

American’s pilots, in a contract dispute as the company restructures in federal bankruptcy court, aren’t happy about the deal. They picketed Monday’s event saying partnerships like the new one with Qatar are costing them jobs.

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