Delta to India: Anatomy of a Masterful Press Release

Delta, Government Regulation

I generally expect airline press releases to bend the truth. I know that releases will gloss over the negatives and focus on the positives; that’s what companies do. I also know that they will find some tortured way to spin any change into being good for the consumer even if the benefits are questionable at best. Writing these releases should be considered an art.

There’s a way to say questionable things without lying, and the closer you get to that point, the more successful it seems the release can be considered. With that background, I offer my congratulations to Delta for its announcement that it will return to the Indian market. The person who wrote it deserves a gold medal for twisting and turning those words in such a way that it not only promotes new service but it slams rivals and curries political favor. Mission accomplished.

Delta used to fly to India long ago. Its most recent foray was via Amsterdam on its own metal, but that went away. Delta has blamed the rise of Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad for the death of that service. This, in fact, was a key point in the airline’s crusade to bring those airlines down and have the US government take action.

The disagreement has been settled, though it seems to me the US carriers received little to nothing of value. You can argue that point if you want, but there certainly are no additional restrictions on service. (The only contested issue, fifth-freedom flights, are in no way restricted, but that wouldn’t have had an impact on US to India service anyway.) Yet, Delta has tied these things together quite skillfully. The release starts…

Delta Air Lines will begin nonstop flights between the United States and Mumbai, India, next year, linking the U.S. with one of its strongest trading partners.

Here, Delta is just building up the importance of this new service from a US perspective. India is such a strong trading partner that nonstop service is hugely important, or so it says. Of course, if this was that important, Delta could have started, or not stopped, this previously (as United and Air India have both done). Sure, there are other reasons why this makes more sense now. The new A350, for example, should be more efficient than the 777 that would have had to fly it before. But that’s beside the point. Plus, we don’t even know if Delta will even use the A350 since none of that detail is given. All we know is…

The announcement follows agreements between the U.S. and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations. The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with service to India, a market long impacted by government-subsidized Middle Eastern airlines.

Just sit back and enjoy how carefully that was crafted. Does it say that the flight is being reinstated because of the agreement that was reached between the US and UAE/Qatar? No, it doesn’t. It just notes that this announcement followed that agreement, so you just naturally correlate the two. That’s smart because there’s no way that the agreement between the countries should have had any impact whatsoever on the commercial viability of a Delta route to India. At all. But this way, Delta can technically make you think the two are connected even though it never actually says that.

This move will mark a return to India for Delta, which was forced to exit the market after subsidized state-owned airlines made service economically unviable.

This is probably as close to a lie as Delta tells in this release. Was it solely the Middle East carrier service that made a Delta route to India “unviable”? Heck, we don’t know. It could have been viable in the first place, but Delta used its cancellation as a political tool. Or maybe it wasn’t viable, but the market is completely different now anyway so that’s not relevant to today. Delta can make that excuse without having to prove it, and it just further makes the reader believe that starting India service is impossible without this recent UAE/Qatar agreement. But Delta never actually says it.

“It is exciting to be able to announce Delta’s return to India from the U.S. as part of our vision to expand Delta’s reach internationally,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We are thankful to the president for taking real action to enforce our Open Skies trade deals, which made this new service possible. We are looking forward to providing customers in the U.S. and India with Delta’s famously reliable, customer-focused service operated by the best employees in the industry.”

Ah, and there it is. The obligatory ass-kissing quote thanking the president. We all know the White House loves this kind of stroking, so it’s a shrewd political play.

The service is subject to government approval; full schedule details will be announced later this year.

Note that Delta isn’t announcing any details yet except that this will be a nonstop between somewhere in the US and Mumbai. We can speculate on which city in the US will get it (I’m told Ed let employees know it would unsurprisingly be from the East Coast), what airplane will be used, and what kind of frequency we’re looking at, but that’s all irrelevant. This press release is meant to play to President Trump’s ego. The details don’t matter. Presumably we actually will see a flight to India next year sometime, but I wouldn’t even call that a given.

Delta also intends to expand its existing codeshare relationship with partner Jet Airways to provide seamless connections to other destinations within India, subject to government approvals.

This is the real reason why this service makes sense now, regardless of the situation with Emirates/Etihad/Qatar. I talked about Delta’s empire-building last year, and Jet is certainly a part of that. Jet has ended its relationship with American as it has strengthened its Delta ties. Jet has already entered into an “Enhanced Cooperation Agreement” with Air France/KLM that dovetails nicely with the Delta/Air France/KLM relationship. This is clearly heading toward tighter integration. Since Jet is based in Mumbai and has its largest hub there, it’s no surprise to see Delta looking to fly into Mumbai and get fat and happy off all those Indian connections.

There are good, compelling reasons for Delta to fly from the US to India nonstop. The A350, the Jet partnership, and general growth in trade are three strong ones. But the signing of an agreement between the US and Qatar/UAE? That is not one. Yet this press release makes you think otherwise. Do you feel a little dirty reading it? That’s how you know it’s working.

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59 comments on “Delta to India: Anatomy of a Masterful Press Release

  1. CF,
    It should be very apparent that the US-India market is highly distorted by the fact that there is so little air service for two countries that are as large as the US and India are. There are just about as many flights between the US and Singapore as there are between the US and India despite the fact that the US and India are BOTH in the top 5 air travel markets in the world. The fact is that the US-India market does not function anywhere close to any other global market.

    Second, you and others have repeatedly tried to argue that there is no benefit to US carriers because of the agreement – and yet you also note that there is dissension even in the State Dept over the benefits in the agreement. The simple fact is that neither you or me know what the agreement will do but to blatantly argue that there is no benefit to US carriers from the agreement is counter to what a whole lot of people who are a lot closer to the situation are actually saying.

    However, let’s also be clear that the situation that would support DL’s new service to India has improved for the better – both because of the deteriorating competitiveness of the ME3 and because of DL’s stronger financial situation and its stronger global partnerships – in this case predominantly with Jet Airways. The ME3 ALL have major financial and political challenges which are leading to less capacity and connectivity than they had in the past. Do you expect DL to say “hey ME3, your infighting between various facts of Islam and your inability to attract pilots gives us an opportunity to start service which we are taking?”
    As great as the service might be on the ME3, passengers would far rather take nonstop service; that is true of every market. The reason why the ME3 have had as much of the share of US-India service is because they have flooded the India market with service and connected it to the world. Do you realize that EK alone has more than 24 flights per day on very large widebody aircraft – A380s and 777-300ERs between DXB and India? That is one of the highest number of flights from any foreign country to any single airline hub anywhere in the world. The way for other carriers to gain their share of a growing market (US to India) is to provide their own service.
    I can also assure you that I would rather fly coach in a Delta 777 at nine abreast than in an EK at 10 abreast. I love the EK A380 but even their own execs say the plane has an oversized influence on EK’s reputation because of the extra space the plane provides – and yet EK’s 777s are not any more comfortable than other global carriers and below DL’s 777s and other widebody aircraft in terms of passenger space.

    Finally, DL also said that they are on the verge of a major global expansion that will take international from 35% to 50% of international revenues. Service to India is clearly part of that strategy. There will be a whole lot more big announcements from Delta for new air service.

    What is abundantly clear is that DL’s announcement about returning to India is generating enormous press, including by those who want to question the actual motives as to why DL is able to restart service. If Delta’s PR dept. has been able to create as much buzz regarding new service for which DL hasn’t even given details, it sure sounds to me like they hit a grand slam.

    1. hahahha 35% to 50% …. now THAT’S some fanboy koolaid right there

      we’re talking about an airline that doesn’t even know how to fly JFK-NRT ….. you know …. that obscure airport pair anchored by $2.7 trillion of combined GDP and nearly 50 million in combined population …

      1. Henry, you do realize that the reason why Delta dropped JFK-NRT is because the Japanese government is in the SLOW process of opening up Haneda airport to long haul international flights as a replacement for Narita service. Delta simply decided it would not compete against Japanese carriers that can fly much closer JFK-HND while DL has to fly JFK-NRT. DL has the 2nd largest number of seats from the US to HND behind NH and has the highest average number of seats per flight of all airlines flying between the US and HND. DL can’t control the decisions of foreign governments but it can choose to compete effectively in those markets; that is what the US-India market discussion here is about and what DL is doing in Japan. Based on the latest DOT data, DL carries more local US-Tokyo revenue (both airports) than any other US airline at a higher average fare. those are facts – not fanboyism

        For-profit companies can’t serve every market but they do serve the ones they know they can effectively compete in. DL has said it will grow its international system over the next few years and I fully suspect they have the financial strength and competitive advantages to be able to do so.

        And, it is very likely that if DL’s India flight originates at JFK, it will be the first of several routes to Asia that DL will add from JFK. DL is well aware that it needs to be able to serve Asia from NYC in order to effectively market itself as a true global carrier from NYC. Keep in mind that UA does not fly to Africa so if DL can succeed with JFK to Asia, it takes a significant step forward.

        1. you’ve just parroted every line that came out from DL’s PR, completely proving that you’re either a blind fanboy or simply an employee

          hahaa largest carrier to HND ? that’s an artificial way of DOT forcing some balancing of competition among the US3. no one will any straight face will claim MSP-HND has any more local O&D than things like DFW-HND or even IAH-HND, but thanks to DL’s incessant tantrum whining about how unfair the japanese are of not offering unfettered HND access to DL, someone had to give DL a pacifier in the form of authority-wasting MSP-HND.

        2. and ps : DL’s entire presence of JFK-Asia currently is just JFK-TLV, but that’s really being liberal about what “asia” encompasses (DOT counts it as “Atlantic” but we’ll skip past that)

          UA flies EWR – TLV DEL BOM NRT PEK PVG HKG …. DL flies JKF – TLV, and AA flies absolutely nothing with their own metal

        3. ” Based on the latest DOT data, DL carries more local US-Tokyo revenue (both airports) than any other US airline at a higher average fare. those are facts – not fanboyism ”

          you know what REAL fanboyism looks like ? your own statement above that pretends JVs don’t exist

          funny DL is the one busy trying to get everyone and their mother in JV bed, but in the place where they’ve failed to win any local partners (first failing to lure JAL over to Skyteam then failing to win at Skymark bankruptcy auction), then all of a sudden they want to discuss “US airline” only.

          1. Tell us what part of NH’s revenue that they don’t get to keep because they gave it to UA and then you might have a point. Joint ventures are indeed a great tool for expanding networks but you can’t count your partner’s revenue as your own and then call them a partner.

            The facts are that DL has retained its local market presence in Japan despite the advent of joint ventures and the movement of service from Narita and Haneda.

            You are indeed right that DL chose not to continue JFK-Tokyo if it can’t fly from Haneda along with its Japanese partners. DL’s position during the opening of HND to US carriers has been proven; HND commands higher average fares and DL simply is not willing to fly from NRT in markets directly competitive with another carrier that can fly to HND.

            Let’s be very clear that there is NO US carrier service from JFK to E. Asia; you do recall that American has served both HND and NRT and has dropped both.

            DL has never served any other city in E. Asia from JFK besides Tokyo.

            DL’s return to India if it is done from JFK will highlight that DL fully intends to operate a full global hub. Given that DL is the only US carrier that flies to Africa, including from JFK, DL will indeed gain a competitive advantage if it builds its presence from JFK to Asia. India will likely be the first of several routes that DL adds from JFK to Asia.

    2. Just a couple of points on this, Tim.

      > Second, you and others have repeatedly tried to argue that there is no benefit to US
      > carriers because of the agreement – and yet you also note that there is dissension
      > even in the State Dept over the benefits in the agreement.

      There is only dissension because the White House doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to believe what has actually happened. But regardless, that point was only about 5th freedom rights and that has no impact on US-India service via a Middle East hub anyway.

      > The simple fact is that neither you or me know what the agreement will do but to
      > blatantly argue that there is no benefit to US carriers from the agreement is counter to
      > what a whole lot of people who are a lot closer to the situation are actually saying.

      The agreement at best forces the Middle East carriers to disclose more information. If that somehow eventually turns into Middle East carriers reducing service and capacity in markets that would impact US to India viability for the US carriers, then nobody knows that except for those Middle Eastern carriers now. They may not even know it, because it may not happen until a year or two down the line if the US decides to play hardball in future discussions. Delta certainly can’t know that, and it can’t bank on anything happening in the future as a reason to launch a flight in this market. My presumption is that Delta has wanted to start this but was waiting until there was some victory in the ME3 case so it could then make it look like it was a valuable win.

      > Do you expect DL to say “hey ME3, your infighting between various facts of Islam and
      > your inability to attract pilots gives us an opportunity to start service which we are
      > taking?”

      No, I expect Delta to say what it says in any route announcement. “We’re excited to serve this market, and blah blah blah.” There’s no need to play the blame game. Just fly where it makes sense.

      > If Delta’s PR dept. has been able to create as much buzz regarding new service for
      > which DL hasn’t even given details, it sure sounds to me like they hit a grand slam.

      That might be true if Delta had a product to sell, but it doesn’t. And who knows when it will even put this up for sale. Generating buzz now is pretty worthless unless it somehow translates into bigger buzz once service goes up for sale. But I doubt it’ll have that kind of shelf life.

      1. I’m glad you replied, CF.

        The simple fact is that NO ONE can accurately measure anyone else’s motivations regarding anything. The simple fact is that DL is adding new service and you and I can easily see many reason why they have reason to do so totally apart from the ME3 deal.

        As I have also noted on your column here, the ME3 are facing multiple issues which make it far more likely that their ability to continue to grow esp. into 5th freedom markets is limited. It is hard to imagine that any airline that understands hub dynamics would waste money flying 5th freedom flights when it has dozens of aircraft parked because it doesn’t have pilots to fly them. Likewise, QR has lost an enormous amount of connectivity on its network because of splits between factions in the Middle East. Etihad is suffering from internal competition within the UAE with EK even as EY’s own poor strategic decisions are proving to be an enormous drain on its finances.

        Those things are verifiable. The motives why carriers make decisions are not.

        I don’t know whether the QR/UAE -US deals will make any difference from a legal perspective but I do know that those carriers are facing a collective challenge to their existence that is the complete reverse of what was seen for years in relation to the US3. DL is taking advantage of its own improved position even as the ME3 just might be more vulnerable than ever.

        You promised a discussion on this issue and, like many others that include non-quantifiable issues, there is certain to be good discussion.

  2. Cranky Flier | Delta to India: Anatomy of a Masterful Press Release

    I would question the premise that the agreement had nothing to do with it.
    India is the top connection market for the Gulf carriers especially Emirates. This new flight will give Delta equal one connection service to all those Indian markets which will help them compete on an equal basis schedule wise. Service wise remains to be seen.

    1. @Hawk – but the agreement between the US and Qatar and between the US and UAE does nothing to limit non-stop service between the US and Mideast, so the federal government isn’t improving Delta’s competitive position for US-India flights.

  3. This even undermines the claims Delta made in its fight against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar — precisely because they can announce non-stop India flying without any government controls on pricing or forced reductions in competitive flying. They said US jobs were at risk and they couldn’t fly these sorts of routes unless something drastic was done. Nothing drastic was done, yet they admit they believe the economics of a non-stop to Mumbai make sense. Which means they believe their previous claims were incorrect.

    Although it’s actually true that Delta couldn’t have announced this flight before the issue they’ve been fighting politically was put to the side — because it would have embarrassed them. In that sense the claim that the announcement now is linked to settling of that other otherwise-unrelated issue is true…

    1. Gary,
      all you and others who argue against the benefit of the US-Qatar-UAE agreement do is to keep the conversation going that DL is restarting service to India – which will likely be the first of a number of announcements from Delta about service to regions of the world that could be served via the Middle East from the US.
      How can you prove that you are right or that those who have a different perspective are wrong? You can’t and the inverse is true as well. By questioning Delta’s motives in restarting the route, all you do is further provide publicity to the fact that they are expanding their network.
      The PR dept. of any company is to generate positive press about the company. Feel free to count the number of media references to DL’s new service to India (as yet without specifics) compared to other new ultra-long high profile route additions. I can assure you that Delta has received far more press regarding its plans to restart India service.

      Of course the economic and commercial basis for starting new service ot India is there – and yet the people who are generating the most press are the ones that are questioning Delta’s motives – which simply elevates discussion of new service which is what every airline wants.

      1. tl;dr, but you can’t prove that you’re right either so I’m not quite sure why you’re so upset with other peoples’ comments.

        1. you are absolutely right which is precisely why I said nothing is accomplished by arguing about DL’s motivations other than to further highlight that DL is adding a major new route.
          There were lots of people that argued against DL in the NRA discussion which resulted in Georgia’s decision to not approve DL’s tax abatement. Not surprisingly, DL says they gained far more business as a result of the NRA decision than they lost from in the tax abatement decision.

          CF and others are completely right that DL likely had plenty of other reasons why they are returning to India. Questioning DL’s motives only adds airtime to the discussion of new service such as has not happened with other high profile new markets.

        2. @Jason H – huh? I can demonstrate that Delta’s position is inconsistent with their previous positions. They said that without limits placed on flights between the US and Mideast, and without limits on Gulf carrier pricing, they couldn’t fly between the US and India. They aren’t getting those limits. They’re going to fly to India. And they’re claiming it’s because of an agreement that didn’t give them the things they said they needed. How, exactly, do you defend Delta on this?

  4. Can the A350 reliably make it to BOM from the US? Going over the Arctic seems like it would be pushing it.

    1. Depends on from where and configuration (and thus weight) of the aircraft, ATL-BOM is about the same distance as SFO-SIN which SQ flies with an A350, JFK-BOM is 700 miles shorter.

  5. Press releases may be mostly political theater but additional non-stop service from the US to BOM is a big deal. The only service that I’m aware of currently is on UA out of Newark. I certainly hope that DL doesn’t put this flight at JFK and just add competition in that market. I don’t think DTW counts as “east coast” but that would be my pick. Easy terminal for connections and far better than the big east coast gateways for international travel.

      1. UA is the only US based carrier flying to India and Air India is a Star Alliance partner. I wouldn’t call that “late to the party” but rather a monopoly on direct service.

        AFAIK there is no OneWorld or SkyTeam partners doing direct flights currently from anywhere in the USA. I have several friends who do fly to BOM 4-5x annually and are usually connecting at AMS on KLM as their corporate travel is through Delta. It works but given a DL option flying from a US gateway I think they’d be interested.

        1. Air India and United may be in the same alliance, but they are not partners. Alliances don’t necessarily mean close collaboration. United’s partner to India is Lufthansa (joint venture). So no, no monopoly at all.

  6. “…curries political favor.”

    1st Place: Semi-clever use of pun related to the subject matter. ;)

  7. Isn’t the real advantage that the ME carriers have over DL or UA is that they fly to so many cities in India, and you can make your connection at DBX? Let’s say you’re flying from NY-Bangalore. On UA, you’d fly to BOM, then have to connect there onward to Bangalore. I’d rather change at DBX, nicer airport , easier connection, than having to deal with BOM for the connection. If you’re simply flying from the US to BOM or DHL< maybe it's not as much of a consideration, but all those other cities, the ME3 have an advantage in my book.

    1. The ME3 fly to far fewer cities than the US3 serve in Europe. For some cities, it might be a question of a one for one connection but for other people, it is not. Further, DL specifically said they would increase their partnership with Jet Airways which will facilitate connections. India is investing in major airport expansions including at BOM which will improve the connection experience.

      1. I think the point was that connecting in AUH/DOH/DXB is superior to almost any other airport. If a second connection is required, it is better to have it be in the US than in India.

        There has been, and will be, a market for non-stop US-India service and connections. Both the US3 and ME3 have continued growing. With a huge developing population served by the ME3,, isn’t there room for both? Aren’t consumers and airlines well served by healthy competition?

        1. With all due respect, perceptions about service preferences are pretty individual. I have flown Emirates a number of times, have changed planes in India and Europe en route to India, and have flown US carriers. DXB is a massive facility and it is crowded. On a per person basis, I would strongly bet that ATL’s international concourses or JFK T4 provide as much or more space and amenities that are as good. Again, personal perception and preference.

          I think the bigger point is that there are enough people that DL – and UA – could easily add more nonstop service between the US and India and have no problem filling it. Many business passengers and a lot of economy passengers prefer a nonstop flight even when 16 hours or more is involved. it is exactly that logic that UA and SQ are using in adding nonstop to SIN – which is just about as far as India is from most gateways.

          DL will do fine because the market is so huge. The size of DL’s hubs, its ability to win corporate business, the amount of data it has gained from its joint ventures and its current Jet Airways relationship as well as its expanded partnership with Jet Airways make it very likely that DL can do in India what it didn’t do before. The real question would seem to be just how big of a presence DL can build in S. Asia, the Arab Middle East, and other parts of the world where it has had a minimal presence for a number of years. Likewise, it is equally worth asking what other US airlines will do.

          1. @Tim Dunn, you are speaking from a very US-centric perspective. While US customers may prefer to connect in the US, most would prefer to make a second connection in DXB rather than BOM or DEL. The secondary US-India markets are where the ME3 will continue to add value, albeit to a relatively small market.

            I would point out that the US sucks for international to international connections. Europe is not much better, creating a real opportunity for the ME3 to serve markets that have not been well served before.

            1. Not only does the US suck at international to international connections but US airports and post 9/11 policies mean that international passengers transiting the US are in reality coming to the US as local passengers from a documentation perspective. US carriers really do not compete much in the international to international market and that is not likely to change with DL’s India service which will very likely be focused primarily on US and Indian passengers.

              Again, preference on where to connect is personal. I am sure there are some Indians that would rather connect in their own country. I’d love to see data to support your thesis.

              While the Middle East might have viable hubs to distribute passengers to/from India, DL’s ability to compete is in India. Again, the US-India market is big enough that DL and other carriers should be able to do better than they have in the past based on the growth of the market and strategies that DL can use to effectively compete with the ME airlines.

              Given that 9W and DL are Indian and US airlines, their partnership of necessity will be Indian-American. Most global air travel has long been dominated by airlines at one end or the other of a passenger’s origin or destination. The fact that the ME3 carry such a high percentage of connecting traffic is precisely why there is opportunity for DL and 9W.

              I am just as certain that the ME airlines will still compete for US passengers and also have the EU as a major source of traffic to/from India; the EU to India segment will be left to 9W as well as AF/KL. The broader global network that 9W can offer in partnership with DL, AF and KL will improve their ability to compete.

    2. JB – Mumbai is actually not a bad place to connect anymore. The new terminal opened in 2014 and by 2016 all the big network carriers have both domestic and international ops consolidated there. If people prefer the Middle East because of the facility, then that’s just a misunderstanding that needs to be overcome.

      Of course, if someone lives in Seattle or Orlando or one of the smaller US cities where Emirates flies, then it would be preferable to fly via Dubai with a single stop than it would be to fly to JFK, then on to BOM, and then on to XXX whatever it may be. But Jet is only going to keep growing its Mumbai hub and that’s going to serve more cities with better connectivity compared to what Emirates has out of Dubai today. It’ll just take time. In the meantime, there should be plenty of demand to keep this Delta flight running in good shape.

  8. Who says the “state-subsidized airlines” are the Gulf carriers ? What about Air India? Let’s not forget that Air India may fall into private hands, thus rationalizing AI’s service. This, too, benefits Delta.

    1. Cranky Flier | Mgarfinkle commented on Delta to India: Anatomy of a Masterful Press Release

      You can add in Alitalia in that group but neither is trying to dominate anything, just survive. Good luck with that.

    2. Mgarfinkle – This may or may not happen, but certainly Delta couldn’t have decided to add this route because of speculation about the eventual future of Air India? The sale process has already been disastrous. I don’t know that I’d believe this will complete anyway.

      1. DL may have better info than you think about the AI process. If it succeeds, rational buyer. If it fails, no more government support for AI, given that India has enough long-haul airlines in Jet/Vistara plus regional players like Indigo. This plus Jet Airways relationship solidified = a win.

        1. Mgarfinkle – I’ll believe it when I see it (AI’s death or revival). But of course, this is sort of a side conversation to this post since Delta didn’t say this had anything to do with its announcement anyway. It really tried to focus on the ME3.

          1. Maybe. Your post was the “Art of Press Releases.” DL didn’t say the state-subsidized airlines which it referenced where only the ME3. That’s the brilliance of this press release. And, India would not be the first country to give up subsidizing its airline, AZ notwithstanding.

            1. Mgarfinkle – It did say it was only the ME3. Specifically, ” The announcement follows agreements between the U.S. and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations. The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with service to India, a market long impacted by government-subsidized Middle Eastern airlines.”

            2. Brett –

              Yes and no:

              The announcement follows agreements between the U.S. and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations. The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with service to India, a market long impacted by government-subsidized Middle Eastern airlines.

              This move will mark a return to India for Delta, which was forced to exit the market after subsidized state-owned airlines made service economically unviable.

              The first paragraph talks about ME3. It says the decision to serve Mumbai (“the announcement”) FOLLOWS the US-ME3 agreement. It does not say that DL’s decision was made BECAUSE of those US-ME3 agreements. Excellent Press Release drafting.

              The second paragraph makes no mention of ME3 carriers. You may believe they are the target, but I believe that AI is at least equally “qualified” to fit that description (or, culpable). By October plus a cemented Jet Airways’ relationship, DL will be in a very good position.

              I prefer that any further discussion about this dead horse be by PM.

      2. It’s also worth noting that global stock markets took a hit today because of fears that Italy might go so far as to pull out of the EU – at which point the EU can’t dictate what Italy wants to do with Alitalia. Italy seems bound and determined to keep AZ as a state treasure but that story is inconsequential in light of a potential dismantling of the EU.

        1. The rank stupidity of the British and US public in voting for the two political disasters that are currently playing out, should be sufficient reason for even the most stupid of the Italian public not to vote for an EU-exit; so, ‘dismantling of the EU’ is a little sensationalist and premature.

  9. DL is just wasting everyone’s time with their semi-half-non-announcement trying to fake hype ….

    we’ve seen the same “O M G IT’S GONNA BE GAME CHANGER” crap coming out of WN, and it’s mostly a nothing-burger (in the most literal sense too, since they aren’t offering a SINGLE Hawaii flight from any of the 5 LA Basin airports ….zzzz)

    1. and yet there have been hundreds of millions of dollars in stock valuation that have changed hands because the world is expecting that LUV will radically change the Hawaii market and it might come at the expense of other carriers. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t but you sure can’t argue that WN hasn’t been masterful in dribbling out discussions of Hawaii even without being able to announce firm schedules or begin ticket sales.

      And DAL and LUV still remain the two US airlines with the highest market capitalization and also led the industry in profitability for the last two quarters. Maybe, just maybe, they both know how to run their airlines better than their peers and also know how to use the media to their benefit even with their very different business models.

    2. Spot on Henry. It’s disingenuous to allude to their leading the industry with non stops to India when United (and before them Continental) has been serving India non stop to BOM and DEL for 13 years, and Air India now has 5 non stops. It’s AI that’s been ramping up significantly since 2015 going from two routes to 5 plus a 5th freedom from Ahmedabad via London Heathrow.

      The whole reason for DL returning (especially its timing) is political. To return sooner (when they could have done) while still complaining about the ME3 would have blown their case out of the water.

      Btw, I’m expecting United to launch a third India service in the not too distant future but I don;t see them “pre-announcing” it.

      1. Where did DL state that its return to India is “industry leading?”

        DL is the most profitable US airline, if not the most profitable legacy carrier in the world. They are SOLELY returning to the India market because they believe they can be profitable serving the market.

        You do realize that DL’s partnership with Jet Airways has only recently expanded including with 9W’s placement of a former DL Asia exec in the position of CEO at 9W? As a result of the leadership changes, DL has increased the partnership with 9W via AF, KL and VS. It is clearly as a result of those increased partnerships that DL sees the opportunity to add its own service and gain an advantage that other carriers in the market cannot match.

        1. here comes the DL parrot who uses system-wide profit to claim they must be succeeding at every single market.

          Why not claim DL is most profitable to HKG while you’re at it ? Or maybe you can also use Microsoft’s corporate-wide profits to justify their Windows Phone strategy too.

          1. The US DOT does not provide route or hub specific data, Henry, and I said nothing about DL being profitable in every market or even in any particular market. They do provide profitability data by global region and that data does indeed correlate with the profitability data that each airline provides to the SEC in their system level financial reports. Airlines provide the data that the DOT uses to provide profitability by global region.

            DL clearly is able to develop network strategies that provide the highest system level profitability and also makes DL the only US airline that is consistently profitable in every one of its global regions on a year round basis.

            Of course, every airline has a ramp up period to steady state full profitability but it is highly unlikely that DL is going to lose the tens of millions of dollars per year that American execs said they lost year after year operating ORD-PEK; AA clearly saw that route as strategically necessary and attempted to sustain the losses and yet their annual losses for their Pacific network as a whole far exceed the tens of millions of dollars they said the ORD-PEK route has lost.

            DL is beginning service to India because they fully believe they can be profitable. If you find evidence that they are losing money flying to India, I want you to make sure I am the first to know.

        2. Tim, you’re making Cranky’s case every time you post.

          DL didn’t state their return to India was industry leading, and nor did I say they stated it. But they *alluded* to it with their misleading press release.

          “Delta Air Lines will begin nonstop flights between the United States and Mumbai, India, next year, linking the U.S. with one of its strongest trading partners.”

          The US is already “linked” with “one of its strongest trading partners” by seven non stop routes, two of them by a rival US carrier for 13 straight years, and one additional AI route using a (cough cough) 5th freedom.

          And yes I’m fully aware of their increased partnerships, including getting a TPAC JV eight years after UA and AA did, and yes piggybacking on AF-KL’s partnership with 9W was very smart.

          Of course it’s good business for DL, and better late then never. But this spin is pathetic.

          1. So why does UA fly to Atlanta since DL already serves every market that UA could possibly fly to from that city? Detroit? Minneapolis?…. need I go on?

            Why is DL’s route planning limited by what UA or AI does?

            It simply is not.

            You do realize that UA was indeed a part of the same Partnership in which AA and DL to voice concerns about the ME3?

            Do you also realize that UA’s execs said with the ascension of Mr. Muñoz that focus on the ME3 was not a priority so EK added its 2nd fifth freedom route to EWR? And just recently, EK decided that they would shift a nonstop from NYC to DXB from JFK to EWR.

            You might want to check w/ Mr. Muñoz before you talk about DL’s pathetic spin. If UA’s failure to be as forceful as DL in addressing the ME3 issue resulted in less EK service into a DL hub and more into a UA, then most objective people would say that DL’s efforts to address the issue and build its network have succeeded.

            and if AA and UA don’t have anything else to add to its network because of the ME3 campaign, then aren’t the bigger fools for battling the issue and getting absolutely nothing in return except a bill for the professional services that were provided to the Partnership? You don’t honestly think that DL footed the Partnership’s bills by itself, do you?

            1. “You might want to check w/ Mr. Muñoz before you talk about DL’s pathetic spin.”

              Why would I need to check with Mr. Munoz before posting on a thread like this? I don’t know about you or the others but I don’t work for any airline. I’m giving my opinion as a (frequent) fare paying passenger, and my opinion is that this spin is pathetic and misleading and unnecessary.

            2. Of course, you are entitled to an opinion as is everyone else including CF who launched the discussion here.
              The problem with opinions is that many of them are built upon facts which are either true or the “facts” themselves are not correct.

              Many have stated that the US3 got noting out of the recent agreements with the US3 so anything they do including having participated in the campaign against the ME3 must be spin.

              The simple fact is that there is significant disagreement even within the US government including the State and Commerce Depts. about the benefits not just from the US agreements with the UAE and Qatar but about a host of other trade issues which the US is addressing right now. Anyone that posts here does not have the full facts of either the agreement and none of us know the outcome of any of the trade issues which the US is addressing.

              What is known is that the campaign against the ME3 has always been a partnership between the US3 and their labor groups whether DL has been the loudest party at the table or not.

              American was aggressive in pushing back on an investment by Qatar in AAL, cancelled codeshares with ME3 even though its largest joint venture partner sees the issue differently. The ME3 presence in DFW is smaller because of AA’s pushback against the ME3.

              It is also not debatable that UA’s execs said with the leadership changes at UA that they would focus on internal issues, EK added a 5th freedom route to EWR, and has now moved a nonstop flight to DXB from JFK to EWR. Mr. Muñoz might wish he hadn’t said anything about not focusing on the ME3 now that EK’s presence has grown in UA’s largest hub.

              AA and DL both can quantify clear benefits from speaking out against the ME3 in a campaign that was financed by all of the US3 and many of their labor groups.

              It is also clear that DL is returning to India because of a number of issues which are not related to the US-Qatar/UAE agreement but which enhance both DL’s ability to compete in markets that could flow over the Middle East while the ME3 carriers are all facing much greater difficulties than they have ever faced with their own internal operations.

              DL and UA are direct competitors to each other as both are to the ME3, DL and UA are the two largest US international carriers, and should be fully expected to seek market opportunities regardless of what the other is doing. The mere fact that DL doesn’t serve India while UA does while UA tried to serve Africa and pulled out says that each will try to compete in each other’s key markets.

              What DL is doing in Asia is not relevant to the discussion here but the facts show that DL has managed to restructure its Pacific operation away from a Tokyo hub and still grow its presence outside of Japan even while maintaining its local market presence in Japan. DL clearly has as much or more upside as any other US carrier as DL implements its own joint venture with KE in Asia while there is nothing comparable to be developed for AA or UA.

              The ME3-US3 debate has always been about who could win the message to the public; at great expense, the ME3 have very aggressively put their name on sporting events around the world because of the visibility provided. The Partnership of the US3 and its labor groups was always all about speaking out about issues that matter to the industry – no differently than what Boeing has done with the Bombardier case or the NRA has done regarding gun control. DL is simply seizing another moment to get its message across and its execs are being invited to speak on the issue – along with other things DL is doing – with US press. The ME3’s execs simply do not have access to the US press – a market which the ME3 needs – as US carriers do.

              DL very likely will succeed in India because it has done a number of things that will ensure its success outside of the US-Qatar/UAE agreements including an expanded partnership between Jet Airways and Delta/Air France/KLM and Virgin Atlantic. The US-India market is very large, US and Indian carriers have a fairly small part of the market while intermediary carriers including Euro and ME3 carriers have a disproportionately large share of the market – which is unusual for just about every other large air travel market.
              Everyone is entitled to an opinion; however, if the outcome of one’s opinion can be measured, then we owe it to ourselves and to others to admit that we were wrong. If DL succeeds in India this time around, then the “spin” that some see in connecting the ME3 debate with DL’s return to India might well have been part of the formula DL is using to grow its market – and is no different that what the ME3 used to gain a presence in large markets around the world.

  10. as usual, you are a master at what you do Cranky. But I have to say that a** kissing was not needed. You can say the same thing with other words. I’ve always said that only inferior minds need to resource to bad language. This is clearly not the case with you. So it is very surprising… say the least.

  11. As a pilot for Northwest airlines I flew the DC-10 from Amsterdam to Mumbai. It was an 11 1/2 hour flight and a real eye opener seeing India for the first time.

  12. Great catch, and I have to say this is a classic example of a masterful PR team that Delta Airlines is using (or perhaps an overly glib Delta PR team). Either way, great analysis here.

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