More cuts


Corn Field
Nov 11, 2003
Delta applied with the DOT today for host of dormancy waivers.
The carrier advises due to difficult market conditions it is unable to fully operate its authorized international frequencies and request a waiver beyond the standard 90-day dormancy period.
Markets the carrier is currently requesting relief in are:

o 5 weekly US – China frequencies until September 1, 2012 (2 of 7 frequencies currently used on ATL-PVG)
o 7 weekly US – China frequencies and extension of startup of Tokyo – Guangzhou service until June 1, 2012
o 4 weekly US – South Africa frequencies (via Dakar) until August 31, 2012
o Waiver on use of one US – Russia seasonal authority until September 1, 2012. (utilized on ATL-SVO)

Delta also requested the modification of select frequencies from year-round to seasonal only use.

o Conversion 4 weekly US - China frequencies from year-round to seasonal basis effective September 2011 to be utilized in reducing DTW / SEA – PEK services.
Doesn't surprise me. There's a lot of long-haul flying that just doesn't make economic sense as long as fuel is $3/gal. Despite some impressive fare hikes, not enough travelers are willing to pay the fares necessary to make profits at those fuel prices. Either more people have to be willing to pay even higher fares or more airlines will cut more long-haul flying. Nearly every airplane trip is discretionary travel, notwithstanding the pronouncements of Bob Owens on the AA forum.
....except that these are not additional cuts because they have either been announced already or simply reducing schedules down to the same levels DL flew last winter.
These are all procedural steps to retain the frequencies DL holds in limited access markets, some of which were not awarded on a seasonal basis even though DL has used them that way - such as ATL-SVO - or are in excess of what DL has used even in the summer - such as in CAN and S. Africa. DL and UA have both received authority in recent years to start CAN service and have both delayed it - although it doesn't matter since there are currently more US-China frequencies available than there are requests to use them. In the case of S. Africa, DL has retained the 4 frequencies that previously supported CPT service even though they have not flown to CPT for several years.

If another carrier requests service that would require the use of unused frequencies, DL and any other carrier would either have to restart the service or give up the frequencies.
The process of requesting dormancy only serves to reduce the time it would take to reactivate the service should DL choose to do so- and in some cases, they have already published schedules for next spring using them.
It is true that operating the same int'l schedule year round will be increasingly difficult to justify with current and likely higher fuel prices in the future.
A big contributor to DL's financial turnaround came from being much more variable in its scheduling... something that CO started doing aggressively during its expansion.
As a result of mergers and joint ventures, airlines now have enough redundant capacity that can be pulled.