On 17 February 2014 Delta announced service between Chicago and London in conjunction with their new joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic. Delta would operate the route in the winter months while Virgin would handle the summer. This would give the pair year-round service in the market. The new, winter operations were scheduled to commence at the end of October. This weekend, only 6 weeks later and still 6 months before service was slated to start the route was pulled. According to a story published at Business Traveller:
A Delta spokesperson said that “Having done further research on the route the decision has been made to evaluate the Delta – Virgin transatlantic offering as we build our partnership and optimise the transatlantic schedule. Virgin continues to service the route from Heathrow during the summer season.”
In this particular case Delta was up against stiff competition. The AA/BA joint venture operates a combined 1200ish seats daily over 5 flights in the winter season on the route. United has another 500+ seats on three daily flights. And then there was the Delta/Virgin Atlantic option of just under 200 seats flown once daily. Oh, and both United and the American/British Airways options offered first class seats; Delta tops out at business class. It was going to be very, very, very hard to break in on that route. It seems that Delta has chosen the easier target market of Seattle for international expansion instead.
I love the Delta Dart Board. We joke about it often on Dots, Lines & Destinations but I think it is incredibly entertaining that they remain creative in their route planning department, looking for ways to serve markets or handle traffic which would traditionally be less than ideal. The operations they ramped up in Africa from 2009-2011 were great to watch, with multiple destinations announced, a theoretical mini-hub and some interesting potential. Alas, most of those flights have now been scrapped (some never started), though a few remain.
There have been other short-lived services, too. But I cannot think of any which actually went on sale and were terminated so quickly or so far in advance. At least the six month window gives customers time to rebook, though I’m guessing there aren’t all that many affected customers.
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