Delta Air Lines is marking its fifth anniversary of nonstop service between the United States and Africa.
The carrier launched its first flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, via Dakar, Senegal, on December 4, 2006.
A week later, Delta Air Lines began serving Accra, Ghana, from its hub at New York JFK. It was the first major U.S. airline to operate nonstop service between the United States and Africa since Pan Am suspended flights in the 1980s.
In the years since those first flights, Delta’s Africa service has continued to expand and today it says it is the leading U.S. carrier to Africa, with service to six African cities in five countries.
“Five years ago, Delta saw an opportunity in Africa to offer our customers access to a region that had long been overlooked by U.S. carriers,” says Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president – network planning, revenue management and marketing. “Today Africa has become a key part of our international network, and we’re committed to continued long-term growth in the region.”
On December 1, Delta again expanded its African network to offer nonstop service between Accra, Ghana, and Abuja, Nigeria, in partnership with Air Nigeria. The service is being marketed and sold by Air Nigeria pursuant to a codeshare agreement with Delta. At this time, Delta cannot sell local traffic between Accra and Abuja.
Delta operates the service twice weekly, with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft equipped with 36 BusinessElite seats, 29 seats in Economy Comfort and 143 seats in Economy.
Since opening its first route to Africa in December 2006, Delta’s Africa network has seen the carrier:
● Grow from 22 weekly departures between the United States and Africa in December 2006 to 44 weekly departures in winter 2011;
● Transport more than 2.5 million passengers to and from Africa;
● Become the only airline to operate nonstop service from Accra to two cities in the United States – Atlanta and New York JFK;
● Become the only airline to operate service to the United States from two cities in Nigeria – Lagos and Abuja; and
● Become the only airline to operate direct service to the United States from Liberia, via Accra.
Delta Air Lines’ current Africa service includes flights linking New York JFK with Dakar in Senegal; Accra in Ghana; Monrovia, Liberia via Accra; and Abuja, Nigeria via Accra; flights linking Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with Accra; Lagos in Nigeria; Johannesburg in South Africa; and Monrovia via Accra; and flights linking Accra in Ghana with Monrovia and Abuja.
Other recent developments in Delta’s Africa service include:
● Delta increased its service between Accra and Monrovia to three times weekly in July 2011;
● Effective June 1, 2011, Delta introduced a premium economy section – “Economy Comfort” – on all its intra-Africa services. The new seats feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 per cent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats;
● Delta is investing in ground services and recently upgraded its gate facilities at Accra airport, and renovated its gate facilities in Liberia;
● In Lagos and Accra, Delta has launched a new Delta Protocol service which provides airport concierge service throughout both airports from check-in to boarding the aircraft for BusinessElite passengers;
● Delta will also be introducing its new fully lie-flat seat in BusinessElite between New York JFK and Accra and Abuja in mid-December, and between Atlanta and Accra and Monrovia in 2012. This aircraft will also provide passengers in economy class with individual on-demand entertainment systems; and
● Delta is investing in new international terminals at its two U.S. gateways to Africa – New York JFK and Atlanta. In Atlanta, the new Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal is scheduled to open in spring 2012. At JFK, Delta’s expanded and enhanced Terminal 4 will open in 2013.
“Despite our success in Africa, we’re not standing still,” says Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We continue to look for new opportunities to serve this fast-growing market, and I expect Africa to be an exciting part of Delta’s long-term growth.”