Just a month after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Delta has announced a huge 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.
Existing U.S.-Europe routes, including Athens as of May 30, 2006, will be bolstered by increased services.
With these route realignments, a series of cost-cutting measures and aircraft consolidation, Delta plans to save $5 billion by the end of next year to help it emerge from Chapter 11. Delta says that it must concentrate on the most profitable transatlantic routes in order to get its finances in order.
But with three (Delta, United Airlines and Northwest Airlines) of the five major U.S. airlines continuing to operate normally under Chapter 11 protection in competition with the European airlines, many in the marketplace are screaming unfair advantage. Under European law, carriers are supposed to stand on their own two feet and not be state supported.
As well, a number of European airlines insist that if American airlines get greater access to airports then they want the same rights to operate freely over the Atlantic and with the U.S. on domestic routes.