Delta Air Lines is expanding the First Class cabins on more than 60 per cent of its mainline domestic fleet – 284 aircraft – as it responds to business customers’ requests for more premium-cabin seating.
By summer 2013, Delta Air Lines will add more than 1,200 First Class seats to its domestic MD-88, MD-90, Boeing 757-200 and Boeing 767-300 fleets as it retrofits and upgrades the interiors of the aircraft. In a program completed earlier this year, the airline has already had nine First Class seats installed in each of the 66 Bombardier CRJ700 regional jets operated by Delta Connection partners Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Comair and SkyWest.
The initiative, which follows the addition of First Class cabins to all Delta Connection regional jets with more than 60 seats, does not impact Delta’s previously announced capacity guidance, according to Delta.
“Delta already offers more First Class seats than any other U.S. airline. This investment in our fleet bolsters our position as the industry leader in First Class seating, and is a significant advantage for our business customers,” says Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president – network planning, revenue management and marketing. “It is part of a much larger investment – more than $2 billion – that we’re making in our fleet, airports and product through 2013 to position Delta as a leader in customer service.”
Including the installation of First Class seats on larger Delta Connection aircraft completed earlier this year, by summer 2013 Delta will have nearly 2,000 more First Class seats on its domestic fleet than it did in 2009 – a 13 per cent increase in premium seating. For SkyMiles members, the expansion means one million more opportunities to upgrade to First class every year, according to the airline.
Delta says it already offers more First Class seating than any other U.S. airline, with 11 per cent of the carrier’s domestic seats in First or Business class on its two-class aircraft. Delta also claims to be the only U.S. carrier to offer a First Class cabin on every domestic flight longer than 750 miles, or approximately 2.5 hours.
The airline’s First Class-cabin expansions represent the latest investment in Delta’s previously announced plan to invest more than $2 billion in enhancing its service products, services and airport facilities by 2013. In addition to upgrading its domestic fleet, Delta will offer full flat-bed seats on more than 100 widebody aircraft; feature personal, in-seat entertainment for both BusinessElite and Economy class customers on all widebody flights; and complete new terminal facilities for international passengers at its two largest global gateways, Atlanta and New York JFK.
The program to add more First Class seats to Delta’s mainline domestic fleet will see the carrier increasing the First Class seating on 19 Boeing MD-90 mainline domestic jets from 12 to 19 seats, a move to be be completed by the second quarter of 2011; and adding two more First Class seats to the 14 now installed in 117 McDonnell Douglas MD-88 mainline aircraft, a program which Delta aims to complete in the fourth quarter of 2011.
In addition, Delta is increasing by six seats to 30 the number of First Class seats in 14 non-extended-range Boeing 767-300 domestic widebodies, a step which it expects to complete by the second quarter of 2011; and the carrier is adding four more First Class seats to 134 Boeing 757-200s to give each aircraft 28 First Class seats, in a major program which Delta plans to complete in the second quarter of 2013.
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