US major Delta Air Lines is planning to introduce a daily Boeing 767-300ER service between New York John F Kennedy airport and London Gatwick, after assuming United Airlines’ reneged rights to serve the UK capital from JFK.

United currently operates daily Boeing 777 nonstops between JFK and London Heathrow. United says it will discontinue the Heathrow service at the end of October and sell its London route authority to facilitate Delta’s Gatwick launch.
The pact, which requires US transport department approval, marks “a milestone in a decade-long effort by Delta to expand” in the London market, says the Atlanta-based major. Delta is calling the rights acquisition the Crown Jewels in its network from JFK.

Delta has long campaigned for transatlantic access to Heathrow, from which it is restricted under the current US-UK Bermuda II bilateral. It says it remains hopeful an open skies agreement can be reached to allow additional carriers to serve Heathrow.

With the addition of service to Gatwick, Delta will serve 22 transatlantic markets nonstop from JFK. This includes new daily Atlanta-Edinburgh and JFK-Manchester flights launched by Delta in May.

The US major, which paid $21 million for United's rights, says it initially plans to operate a daily service between JFK and Gatwick, with a second scheduled for the second quarter. A third daily flight could eventually be added.

Separately, United last week unveiled an expanded schedule for Asia, which will add 40 more weekly, year-round flights and additional cargo capacity during the next nine months. This expansion includes the launch of service between United’s Washington Dulles hub and Tokyo, and the reinstatement of its daily nonstop from San Francisco to Taipei.

United says its new service between Dulles and Narita replaces its current daily 777 flights linking the Tokyo airport with JFK.

“By focusing on the strength of our hub network, United and our customers will benefit from our increased Asia Pacific service, including our first-ever Asia Pacific service from Washington Dulles,” says United executive vide president and chief revenue officer John Tague. “As we improve our financial performance, we must make certain that we take full advantage of our network strength and fly routes that provide the best revenue opportunities for United and the greatest benefits to our customers.”

Source: Flight International