The U.S. airline is offering the market three additional routes linking its two main hubs, Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK), with cities in Germany. These are Berlin (BER), Dusseldorf (DUS), and Stuttgart (STR). The new services complement the existing flights to Frankfurt and Munich. Details were given at a press conference at Dusseldorf Airport.
It is not known whether the Delta management intends to raise Thomas Brandt’s salary. But it is conceivable, because the workload of Delta’s Sales Manager Germany, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe, continues to increase considerably through the growing number of transatlantic services to/from Germany. Three new destinations are now on Delta’s route map: BER, STR, and DUS. This ups the number of total flights to 50 per week, offering travelers and cargo customers additional transport options across the big pond. While Munich (MUC), Frankfurt (FRA), and Berlin (BER - as of 25MAY23) are served daily, Stuttgart (STR - four times a week) and Dusseldorf (DUS – three weekly flights) have been reintegrated in the carrier’s intercontinental network after the COVID-19 virus had swept the flights off Delta’s itinerary.
Cargo is a large egg in Delta’s basket
B767-300 aircraft are utilized on these routes. All services are operated in close cooperation with Delta's transatlantic joint venture partners, Air France/KLM. “We would like to scale up our services, but unfortunately we don't have enough aircraft to meet the demand,” Mr. Brandt regretted, when briefing the media. However, for the ATL-DUS-ATL sector, he hinted that an increase from three/week to daily operations might be likely come the summer.
When asked about the importance of air cargo on the new routes, the manager said that air freight in general is a very important pillar of Delta’s business strategy. Concerning the DUS flights, he stressed that even before the pandemic, there was a high demand for cargo shipments by the air freight communities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. “We expect this to happen again in the months ahead, as soon as the new flights are well known in the market.” Every decision for or against a new intercontinental service is weighed up to see whether it makes sense from the cargo management’s point of view, he stressed.
High industrial transport demand expected
Lars Redeligx, CEO of Dusseldorf Airport, pointed out that 30 cities in North-Rhine Westphalia had signed partnership agreements with a U.S. city, stimulating reciprocal visits by delegations, cultural or sporting associations, to whom Delta offers reliable transfer options at the carrier’s main U.S. hubs, predominantly Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK), but also Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Detroit (DTT), or Seattle (SEA). Onward flights to South America and Canada are also an option, thanks to the partnership of his company with LATAM, Aeromexico, or the Canadian carrier, WestJet.
Last year, 224,000 U.S. travelers visited North-Rhine Westphalia, Mr. Redeligx said. He pointed out that the State is the most populous and by far the most industrialized region in Germany, and home to some 1,600 U.S. companies. These include the technology group, 3M, the food giant, Cargill Incorporated, and the online retailer, Amazon, to name just three heavyweights. In addition, there are well-known pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Bayer Leverkusen, Henkel, and Grünenthal, which depend on smoothly functioning intercontinental supply chains for their products.
Environmental issues are high on Delta’s agenda
The fact that Delta is a reliable partner not only for passengers but also for air freight, was pointed out by manager Brandt. His argument is based on facts: “According to surveys conducted in 2022, Delta ranked first worldwide in punctuality and reliability last year.”
In addition to this, he stressed environmental aspects. “All business activities, technical issues or materials used are meticulously scrutinized by experts to comply with the highest standards of sustainability. We pursue a holistic approach stretching from ground to flight activities and the use of climate friendly materials installed in our aircraft.”
Part of this scheme is an order of 4 to 6-seat electric aircraft that Delta intends to operate airport-to-airport in the U.S. The carrier also invested USD 60 million in the Santa Cruz-based electric aircraft startup, Joby Aviation, driven by considerations to build a fleet of electric air taxis to shuttle passengers to and from their airport destinations. Green hydrogen is also on the airline's radar as a future carbon-neutral form of propulsion, sales manager, Thomas Brandt assured.
DUS changes growth strategy
Dusseldorf Airport wants to grow further, but differently. According to a new scheme, presented last Friday, the number of aircraft movements shall be capped at max 47 per hour. Formerly, the management had advocated an increase to 60 takeoffs and landings. “Smart Growth” shall be achieved by urging airlines to operate larger aircraft, offering more capacity for passengers and cargo transports. This would allow to increase the number of travelers with a limited number of flights. A key tool to achieving this aim are airport fees benefitting carriers that deploy modern aircraft with lower noise and greenhouse gas emissions compared to older models.
Previously, when the now defunct Air Berlin was using DUS as their international hub, the airport had advocated an increase to 60 takeoffs and landings per hour, which caused fierce protests from local residents. These former plans are now pushed off the table by the “Smart Strategy”. Meanwhile, members of local initiatives against aircraft noise emissions have been applauding the airport management for its intent.
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