Delta Air Lines has been true to its word: It said it would fly where there might be profits. Now it is poised to move dramatically into international service where profits can still be made and where low-fare rivals can still be avoided. Delta claims it will be the largest carrier flying across the Atlantic by next summer when it will have added 11 new markets from two airports: JFK in New York and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, where Delta is based.


The picture shows Delta chief executive Gerald Grinstein (right) with Israel Minister of Tourism Avraham Hirchson at the announcement of the Atlanta-Tel Aviv service.

Delta, which just over a month ago filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, had already announced some of the individual routes. Once it has begun service to and from cities such as Edinburgh, Budapest and Venice next year, Delta said, it will surpass competitors like American Airlines, British Airways and Continental Airlines on the long-lucrative North Atlantic.

But New York-based consultant Craig Jenks says that behind the bold announcements lay some careful moves. Some of these routes are ones that Delta had operated before and suspended, and Jenks notes that on just four of the 11 routes Delta will be a complete newcomer. Some of the European cities are new to their US departure points but are cities that Delta already serves from another US city; indeed only 6 of the 11 new services involve new stations.

And none of Delta’s new routes are in the “dynamically growing US-Asia non-stop category,” he says, noting that the carrier does not have the equipment to enter most of these routes. It is relying heavily on its Boeing 767 fleet, some of which it had used in domestic service. Only one of the new Delta routes is beyond 6,000 miles and so the beyond range of its 767s: this is Atlanta-Tel Aviv, to be flown with a daily 777 service.

Source: Airline Business