Delta has terminated its seasonal service to Istanbul, previously set to resume in May 2016. The company issued a statement this morning in which security concerns and reduced demand play in to the decision:
Due to increased security concerns in Turkey, including a travel warning issued by the State Department, and weaker demand for air travel to this market, Delta has taken the decision to suspend its New York-JFK-Istanbul service due to start in May 2016.
This is the second transatlantic route to see cuts this year, both related to security issued; Delta previously suspended its Atlanta-Brussels service following the airport bombing in Belgium last month.
And, while I have no doubt that security concerns one of the challenges the company faces, I do also wonder what other factors are playing in to this. For Istanbul Turkish Airlines now operates 3x daily in the summer, putting a significant amount of capacity in the market, much of which connects onward to Asia, Africa or Europe. That pressures yields, similar to the ME3 carriers and their onward traffic, especially given the broad route map Turkish offers. And then there are the general economic conditions, reducing demand for TATL traffic this summer, even as capacity is increasing. That increase, of course, also affects the market in the broader sense, with more options and competition flying across the pond. Yes, the three major alliances sill carry 70%+ of the TATL traffic between them but that is a decrease from prior years. And the approval of Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, part of that company’s plans to increase long-haul service, is unlikely to bolster the alliances’ position.
So, yeah, the market is shifting for all sorts of reasons. And, right now, Delta is shifting, too.
On a more personal note, especially because I mock the “Delta Dart Board” so often, this cut makes sense to me. Not because I necessarily think Istanbul is dangerous but because the government there is doing so much to suppress news from getting out. If I cannot make an informed decision then the only smart decision is to stay away. And that sucks.
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