I really thought that after last year’s transatlantic expansion to place like Kiev (Ukraine), Delta would have started to let up a little.
This morning, they announced another seemingly crazy expansion plan. Let’s dig in one by one:
- Atlanta – Prague starts May 2
This one makes a lot of sense actually. SkyTeam partner Czech already flies it out of JFK. It seems a natural for them to connect their biggest hub with the hub of a partner. It makes a lot more sense than some other routes.
- Atlanta – Vienna starts May 21
Vienna is not a big aviation market, but if they can make other smaller European cities work, this might not be too bad. Previous rumors of Austrian’s defection from Star Alliance to SkyTeam would have made this an easier choice, but those seem to have quieted down recently.
- Atlanta – Dubai starts May 31
Well, this is probably going to be a good one. Dubai is growing by leaps and bounds. I mean, Emirates can support three daily flights out of JFK alone right now! Imagine what the Atlanta hub can feed here.
- Atlanta – Seoul/Incheon starts June 4
This one falls into the same category as the Prague flight. Korean is a member of SkyTeam, so this allows Delta to send people through Korean’s hub in Seoul. The difference is that Korean already flies this one daily year round with more flights during the summer. Is there enough demand?
- New York/JFK – Pisa starts April 1
Huh? Well, they clearly think there’s a market to tap in Florence, because they’re marketing this as “Pisa/Florence” on the press release. At first I thought this would be to feed an Alitalia hub, but that airline has a very small presence there and they only fly to Milan and Rome. This one just boggles the mind.
- New York/JFK – Bucharest starts June 5
I’ve heard Bucharest is going to be the next place to go in Europe, but it’s certainly not there yet. Again, this one seems really, really odd.
There are a couple other changes like double daily flights on New York/JFK – London/Gatwick, nonstop JFK – Shannon (instead of coupling it with Dublin), and a second daily New York/JFK – Sao Paulo during the next northern summer.
All the Europe flights will be on 767s while the Asia flights (including Dubai, I assume) will be on 777s. They only have 8 777s in the fleet right now, so I’m not sure where all this extra capacity is coming from.
I think Delta is seeing that the profit margins are in international flights just like Northwest and most of the airlines with an international presence. Are these recent announcement from Delta and Northwest indicators that they are finally done cleaning house internally and may be close to announcing plans to exit bankruptcy?
I’m not sure that these announcements mean the same thing for both Delta and Northwest.
In Northwest’s case, it sure does sound like they’re going back on the offensive again with expansion. They haven’t done it in a long time and this could be a sign of them turning the corner toward focusing on the operation again.
For Delta, I don’t think that’s the case. They’ve been shifting aircraft resources around to international flights throughout their bankruptcy, so this just follows in that line. If anything, it’s a sign that their seemingly crazy expansion strategy last summer has worked and they see more opportunity.
I’ll personally be very curious to see what they think after watching all the red ink on those flights this winter.