Delta cuts Istanbul service

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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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Your comment about the Government of Turkey’s suppression of news is misplaced if you take it from a tourist’s standpoint. I visited Istanbul for several days in November and had a flawless experience (yes, there have been two suicide bombings in Istanbul since, but I don’t see that as an extreme threat to tourists if you take the right precautions). Nothing to me indicated censorship of news, at least not news concerning me as an American visiting Turkey. In fact, there were violent Taksim Square protests while I was there which were reported on the news an hour or so later. Furthermore, foreign outlets regularly report news from Turkey which is a fine way to stay “informed” (and you can read all the New York Times and CNN you want while in Turkey – it’s not like they censor websites).

    If you use your eyes and ears, you will be fine 99.9% of the time. If we live in fear, we do an injustice to ourselves and to Turks whose warmth and hospitality exceed them. Plus, with tourism down in Istanbul, there are bargains to be had and fewer crowds, which contributes greatly to the experience.

    1. I do not believe that media – foreign or local – is free to report on incidents in the country. There have been a number of recent events where significant effort was made to suppress information dissemination. “Just take right precautions” no longer works when the location and impact of attacks is not freely discussed.

      And I agree that the odds of anything untoward happening are spectacularly low. But part of making informed decisions is having the details available to make such judgements with. The current climate there (and I do believe it has worsened in recent months) precludes such.

      I’m a huge fan of Istanbul and Turkey. I have visited many times and encouraged others to do so as well. I no longer think such is prudent, and I’m far from conservative on such things.

  2. You could probably say there have been three TATL cuts this year from DL, if you count ATL-DXB.

    1. I don’t know the provenance of the route authority but I don’t think it has been running consistently by DL going back that long.

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