"Delta is without question the best choice for the next airline designation to China," Chief Executive Officer Gerald Grinstein said in a proposal to the U.S. transportation department.
He said Delta service would "fill a critical void in air travel today, the lack of service between the Southeastern U.S. and China and the lack of U.S. carrier service between the Eastern U.S. and Shanghai," Air Transport World reported Monday.
The proposed route would be operated with Boeing 777s in a two-class configuration.
A codeshare arrangement with future SkyTeam partner China Southern Airlines would offer connections to Chinese destinations beyond Shanghai, Delta said.
Delta plans to introduce lie-flat seats on its 777 fleet in 2008 along with on-demand in-flight entertainment.
United Airlines won a three-way bid against Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines to fly from Washington Dulles International Airport to Beijing earlier this month.