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Delta to Overhaul JFK Operations and Add New Flights: It’s Good News, Really!

Delta announced a major expansion at JFK, including 14 new international routes.  This is great news, as a number of these routes are thinly serviced or not serviced at all nonstop (new flights include service to Tel Aviv, Edinburgh, Dakar, Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo, Amman, Malaga, Cape Town, Panama City (Panama), Guatemala City, Port of Spain, San Jose (Costa Rica), and Liberia (Costa Rica).  As I’ve mentioned here, about 2 years ago, no US airline served any cities in Africa – with this announcement Delta now serves 6 in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Well done.

Even better, Delta is actually trying to make operations at JFK more bearable.  They’re eliminating all turboprop flights to ease the number of takeoffs and landings.  Now about 2/3 of flights will be served by larger 2-class airplanes (up from about 40% last year).  And they’re pushing some of their shorter trans-Atlantic flights to after 7pm to ease the crazy amount of Europe-bound traffic that leaves between 5 and 7. 

Bravo to Delta for actually making changes that will positively impact your flying experience.

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  1. Because (like most press releases) this announcement only highlights the positive, I’ve been waiting for a comprehensive article discussing Delta’s move. Most (if not all?) of this int’l expansion has been previously announced (I know because I’m booked on some of these new flights!). What seemed “new” to me was the decision to eliminate the turboprop flights. Which makes me wonder how anyone (except New Yorkers) will make it to these int’l destinations. What’s Delta’s plan for feed? Or is there no plan?

    As a consumer, I applaud Delta’s desire to launch new flights to places other airlines don’t fly. As an investor, though, I wonder. The guys who run the big hub across the Hudson (CO at EWR) aren’t stupid. They’ve GOT feed — along with plenty of ETOPS 757s and widebodied equipment) but never thought these destinations would be profitable. Indeed, CO HAS stumbled when they’ve launched service to “secondary” long haul int’l cities from EWR (a place like Santiago, Chile comes to mind).

    Has the world changed? I’m not sure. But without the feed, I’m skeptical much of this stuff will work.

  2. Skepticism is justified. I think they’re replacing the eliminated turboprops with RJs (if I read the release correctly).

    Lack of feed is a killer, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Delta, which has beefed up JFK’s int’l operations significantly over the past year or two.

    As for secondary destinations: None of these (save for Malaga, possibly) seems crazy to me. Africa is still woefully underserved, as is the Middle East. Central America has a fair amount of service already, so that remains to be seen.

    But all of these are better options than throwing more capacity at routes that compete domestically (and where they make no money at all). Look at the initial fares – $1600 round trip to some of the African destinations. Better than using the aircraft for a $149 round trip from Atlanta to the West Coast.

  3. Right, adding much domestic capacity is probably a stone cold loser for them. I’ve always assumed that there wasn’t much service to Africa (except South Africa) because there wasn’t the demand (and the limited demand could be met on connecting flights thru Europe). Ditto most Middle Eastern nations (where I presume there’s a little more demand, but that it’s low yielding ethnic travel, not business people).

    I’ve always assumed that all the airlines can run the numbers, and that the revenue just wasn’t there. But maybe that assumption was wrong. Delta did launch some India service that Continental soon copied.

    I agree that some of the Latin stuff probably won’t work. Liberia, Costa Rica? Without feed, how many New Yorkers are headed there each day? It’s a beach destination, and you’re going to have to sell it cheap to fill it up.

  4. Are you aware that if you make a 1st Class reservation with American Airlines and they bump you to coach they do not, and will not refund the difference?

    We own a fine jewelry store here in San Mateo – could you please come in and buy a $5600.00 (our 1st Class tickets) watch, and I will adjust the band and ask you to pick it up tomorrow. Tomorrow you come in and I will hand you an $1800. watch (coach fare) and tell you the first watch has been cancelled due to mechanical difficulties – no refunds – and please come in and do business with us again soon. You are a valued customer.

    That is what AA has done to us. Can you explain this please? Can you please help us get our $3800.00 refund from AA? I sure appreciate your time – and boy, do I have a watch for you!
    Thank you, Leslie Rosenberg

  5. What I want to know is why almost all European-bound flights – including Delta’s new service, apparently – leave in the evening and land in the morning. Virgin Atlantic has one of the few flights to London that leaves in the morning and arrives in the evening, which allows you to then get some rest and actually be awake for meetings the next day.


  6. 1) About getting bumped to coach from first: There’s something missing from your story. Shoot me an email at jared (at) and we’ll figure out what’s going on.

    2) Avi – yes, there are a couple of day flights to London, and Air France has a day flight to Paris. But the demand for day flights to other cities simply isn’t there. People prefer to sleep (or “sleep” as it were) on the plane and have the full day in Europe. Or they prefer to fall sleep in their meetings.