Delta to suspend Kiev and Cape Town services

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Delta Air Lines is planning to downgrade its New York-Kiev and Atlanta-Moscow services from year-round to seasonal as part of a major reduction in its international capacity.

The carrier also has decided to suspend its Atlanta-Dakar-Cape Town service for one year and to not resume its seasonal New York-Buenos Aires service until December 2010.

Delta late last week asked the DOT for dormancy waivers covering several existing routes as it adjusts its international network to match up with declining demand. This follows Delta's 11 June announcement that it will cut international capacity by 15% in September, compared to a previous plan unveiled in March to trim international capacity by only 10%.

In the 11 June announcement Delta said the capacity cut will be achieved in part by suspending two transpacific routes - Atlanta-Seoul and Atlanta-Shanghai - and three transatlantic routes - Cincinnati-Frankfurt, Cincinnati-London Gatwick and New York JFK-Edinburgh.

In its filing with the US DOT, Delta revealed it also plans to convert its New York-Kiev and Atlanta-Moscow service from year-round to seasonal.

The carrier says it now operates three weekly year-round flights from New York JFK to Kiev with an extra two additional frequencies in the summer. But from 1 September, the carrier is asking for permission to drop this route entirely until the 2010 summer season.

Delta now connects Atlanta with Moscow four times per week year-round with an additional three frequencies during the summer. The carrier also is asking for permission from the DOT to stop serving this route from 1 September until next summer.

In the same filing Delta also revealed it plans to suspend its four weekly flights to Cape Town in South Africa on 1 September. These flights, which operate from Atlanta with a fuel stop in Dakar, where transfers are available with Delta's New York-Dakar service, launched last June.

Delta does not indicate exactly when it plans to resume its JFK-Kiev and Atlanta-Moscow services. But for the Atlanta-Dakar-Cape Town route it has asked for a dormancy waiver until 1 September 2010, suggesting Delta for now intends to re-launch the service exactly one year after its suspension.

Delta also is asking the DOT for a dormancy waiver for its five weekly frequencies between JFK and Buenos Aires. The carrier served this route for the first time last winter and was planning to resume it this coming winter. But Delta is now requesting permission to not resume the route until 18 December 2010.

The carrier says the requests for dormancy waivers are being made "in light of adverse global market conditions that are continuing to suppress demand for international air travel. Delta is taking proactive measures now, making prudent adjustments to its international schedules in advance of the winter season, traditionally the weakest demand period.

"These temporary service reductions are part of a company-wide strategic effort designed to better align capacity with current demand, and position Delta for long-term success when the economy recovers," the Atlanta-based carrier says.

The cuts will temporarily leave Cape Town and Kiev without any Delta service. Delta is the only US carrier currently serving either of these cities.

Delta, however, will continue to serve Moscow from New York and Buenos Aires from Atlanta. It will also continue to serve Johannesburg in South Africa from both Atlanta and New York.