The press release email reads “Air France to Launch Winter Service to Chicago” but in the world of joint venture operations there is often more than just the headline to understand. In this case Air France and Delta “share” service on the Chicago-Paris route, alternating between winter and summer in terms of which of the two operate the flights for their joint venture partnership.
Delta was set to take over in late October with a 767, replacing the Air France A330 service which is operating this summer. This announcement has Air France keeping the A330-200 on the route over the winter with service five days per week; Delta will likely not fly on its own metal.
And someone at Air France figured out that this was confusing; the web version of the release was updated to read “Air France Continues to serve Chicago” rather than suggesting it is a new service launch.
Bizarrely, the flights on Delta metal are still for sale while the Air France flights are not. The A330 is loaded in schedules but no inventory is open on it for purchase yet. The Delta-operate flights remain on sale for the same dates and approximate times. Presumably the Delta-operated tickets will be converted 1:1 over to Air France operated, hence only selling one of the two, but the implementation of this transition is one of the more strange JV ticket sale transitions I’ve seen in practice.
Also worth noting that the Air France A330-200 has a proper Premium Economy cabin on board while the Delta 767 offers only Comfort+ seating. That sort of transition could present an interesting purchase opportunity but Delta is not yet selling the Comfort+ as a separate cabin for Europe routes so that arbitrage play appears null.
Most amusing to me in the release is this line about the appeal of Chicago. In a story advertising winter flights:
With its white sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see – 33 in the city center alone – and warm water perfectly suited to bathing (rising to 80°F in the summer), Lake Michigan is the city’s other big tourist attraction.
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I’ve never really understood why they did the swap in the first place. It would be one thing if AF ran an A380 during summer and then downgauged to the DL 767 for winter, but the A330 vs 767 are pretty similar. And Delta doesn’t really have any feeder traffic at O’hare except to hubs.
Either way, I would rather have AF operate the route as their J-class availability space has been great the last few years. I’ve used 85% of my skypesos on this route. The J-class isn’t cutting edge by any means….but it beats coach!
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