September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
JUST a month after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Delta has announced its biggest ever international expansion plan.
With the aim to be the ”world”s largest airline across the Atlantic” the beleaguered carrier will launch additional flights from its Atlanta and New York bases to 11 new markets in Europe and the Middle East by summer next year.
With plans to save $5 billion by the end of next year to help it emerge from Chapter 11, the airline has embarked on a series of cost-cutting measures, route realignments and aircraft consolidation.
How European carriers must marvel at how an airline protected from its creditors can now announce a major boost to its competitiveness on transatlantic routes with so many new services.
It just does not seem fair, when viewed from the British Airways or Virgin Atlantic point-of-view.
Delta says its steps to get its house in order demand that it concentrates on the most profitable transatlantic routes and it appears there is nothing to stop it - and its Skyteam partners - from squeezing other airlines while being protected.
”Next summer's increase in international flying is an integral part of our customer-focused transformation plan,” confirmed Delta chief executive Gerald Grinstein.
And it does not just stop with the new markets being forged, like Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin, existing US-Europe routes will be bolstered by increased services and 28 new destinations will be added in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The airline is to also refurbish its international fleet and improve its BusinessElite product, again improving its competitiveness against the likes of BA, Lufthansa and Virgin.
With three of the five major US airlines continuing to operate normally under Chapter 11 protection in competition with the European airlines, there does seem to be a case for an unfair advantage. Under European law, carriers are supposed to stand on their own two feet and not be state supported, obviously not the case in the US.
And will this anti-competitiveness be addressed by US and European negotiators currently discussing transatlantic access and Open Skies? Unlikely, as the US team is batting for their carriers and they are not breaking any rules.
Virgin and BMI have already called for negotiators not to cave it to American demands for greater access to Heathrow, without allowing them the same rights to operate freely over the Atlantic and with the US on domestic routes. But will the European negotiators listen?
A totally free transatlantic agreement, or complete Open Skies, is the holy grail for European and US airlines, but while anti-competitive rules survive across the pond, it is just a pipe dream.
And while airlines like Delta, United Airlines and Northwest Airlines can continue to operate without regard to their commitments to creditors, then who needs Open Skies to be competitive and hopefully profitable in the future.