Delta Air Lines is planning to shift up to 13 Boeing 767s from domestic to transatlantic and Latin American routes as part of plans to boost revenues following its entry into Chapter 11.

The carrier, which is scaling back its domestic services by around 20%, says the move will make it the number one on the transatlantic in terms of departures, capacity and destinations. Delta’s managing director Atlantic region, Loren Neuenschwander, claims that its unit costs will be 25% lower than its major US and European competitors on the transatlantic once an $8 billion cost-saving programme started in 2004 is completed in 2007 – around the time it hopes to exit bankruptcy.

European carriers have voiced their unease at the prospect of US carriers with Chapter 11 protection undercutting fares. However, Neuenschwander points to the fact that many European carriers have a much higher proportion of international traffic than Delta. “We are going to look more and more like the British Airways or Lufthansa model,” says Neuenschwander.

Delta is switching eight 767-300ERs and three-to-five 767-400s onto international routes. The 767-400s will operate in a single class until they are upgraded to international business-class standards next winter.

New routes include Athens, Edinburgh, Nice and Venice from Atlanta and Budapest, Kiev and Manchester from New York JFK, as well as separate JFK services to Dublin and Shannon. This is in addition to previously announced routes to Tel Aviv, Dusseldorf and Copenhagen, all from Atlanta.

However, New York-based consultant Craig Jenks says that some of these routes are ones that Delta had operated before and suspended, and notes that Delta will be a complete newcomer on just four of the 11 routes.

The carrier is also planning to add 28 new routes in Latin America and the Caribbean during the next winter and summer season, with new destinations including Managua in Nicaragua, Roatan and San Pedro Sula in Honduras and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Source: Airline Business