Delta released early details of its summer 2009 schedule, and all I can say is . . . wow. They are moving a lot of airplanes around, and they’re flying to a bunch of cities that you’ve probably never heard of. They’re clearly enjoying having a brand new fleet of Northwest airplanes to schedule, but a lot of these seem like risky moves. Then again, you know what they say. No risk, no return.
The details are all available in the press release, so I won’t bother going over them all. But here are a few thoughts.
- They’re really starting to mix the fleets faster than I thought. A Northwest 747 will fly Atlanta to Tokyo and a Northwest A330 will fly Salt Lake to Tokyo. What I want to know is where these planes are coming from. I mean, it’s not like those aircraft are sitting on the ground right now. They’re flying other routes. So what else is being pulled down?
- And speaking of Salt Lake to Tokyo, this one is very interesting in that the local market is pretty slim. Sure, they have plenty of feed from the Rockies into Salt Lake to send over to Tokyo, and now they have the Northwest hub on the other side in Tokyo as well. They might be able to pull it off through sheer connectivity, but it will be tough.
- Delta is really pushing its 757 here a lot, but I’m trying to figure out where they’re all coming from. We already saw the Pittsburgh/Raleigh-Paris flights, but now we have a bunch of Africa flying as well as some smaller European cities (Gothenburg and Valencia).
- What the heck is in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to make that flight worthwhile? And I thought Liberia was odd.
- Sal (Cape Verde Islands) has become a mini hub for these guys with flights to Liberia, Malabo, Luanda (Angola) and Abuja (Nigeria). I flew through Sal when I was flying South African from Atlanta to Johannesburg a few years back, and there’s not much there. Since then, SAA has stopped flying there completely, so it’s interesting to see Delta move in. Of course, these flights only operate once or twice a week at most. It’s more of a fuel stop/crew rest point out of convenience and nothing else. These flights won’t be cheap.
I’m really curious to see how this all works out for them. I mean, they could end up losing a lot of money if it doesn’t. But if they’ve figured something out, it could be huge. The Asian flying in particular really shows the power of the merger (if the flights are successful). Assuming they stick, Delta will be able to point to all the naysayers and say that the merger really did create many new route opportunities. My guess is that only some of these will stick, however, but that’s ok. As long as they act quickly to cut the ones that fail, then this will still be worthwhile.