Delta Air Lines has applied to the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation for permission to operate twice-daily, year-round service between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Boston, and daily year-round service between Heathrow and Miami.
In its applications, Delta Air Lines argues that its new service would benefit consumers by increasing competition among airlines and airline alliances between the U.S. and Heathrow, which is tightly restricted by airport slot restraints.
Delta – a founding member of the SkyTeam Alliance – claims that the oneworld alliance, which includes American Airlines and British Airways, holds 47 per cent of Heathrow’s takeoff and landing slots; and that the Star Alliance, which includes United Airlines, US Airways, BMI and Lufthansa, accounts for 25 per cent of Heathrow’s slots.
SkyTeam, whose members include Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia, holds only 5 per cent of Heathrow’s slots, according to Delta.
“Delta’s new service would provide more choices and competition for customers traveling between these important U.S. cities and London, one of the most popular destinations in Europe for both business and leisure travelers,” says Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president – network planning and revenue management. “Awarding these slots to Delta and SkyTeam would significantly enhance competition among the major alliances across the Atlantic.”
The slots for the new service are available following the U.S. and E.U. governments’ approval of an immunized transatlantic alliance between American Airlines and British Airways. The government required the airlines to divest some Heathrow slots in order to enhance competition in the most tightly restricted markets.
If approved, Delta’s Heathrow service from Boston and Miami would begin on March 27, 2011, and would be offered in cooperation with its transatlantic joint venture partners Air France-KLM and Alitalia.
(Together, the SkyTeam airlines reportedly control substantial majorities of the take-off and landing slots at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, two of Europe’s busiest international-gateway airports. Similarly, Star Alliance carriers control the majority of slots at Frankfurt Airport, the second-busiest European international; gateway after Heathrow.)
Boston is one of the largest markets between the U.S. and Heathrow, with more than 270,000 passengers annually. The route is popular with business travelers in the financial services and technology industries.
Delta, the second-largest carrier at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) with 75 peak-day departures to 17 cities, would operate two flights daily to Heathrow, using Boeing 767-300ERs equipped with 36 seats in their BusinessElite cabins and 180 seats in their Economy-class cabins.
Its proposed Boston-Heathrow summer 2011 schedule would see flight DL270 departing BOS at 7:00 p.m. and arriving at LHR at 6:45 a.m. the next day, local time. Flight DL144 would leave BOS at 9:50 p.m. and land at LHR at 9:35 a.m. the next day.
In the other direction, flight DL 271 would push back at LHR at 10:30 a.m. and reach BOS at 1:25 p.m. the same day, local time. Flight DL145 would leave LHR at 1:30 p.m. and get to BOS at 4:25 p.m.
Delta says its proposed new service between Heathrow and Boston would complement existing transatlantic service offered by the SkyTeam alliance from Boston, including year-round flights to Paris, operated by Air France; to Rome, operated by Alitalia; and to Amsterdam, operated by Delta.
The carrier also claims that, as the second-largest carrier at Miami International Airport (after American Airlines), Delta and its SkyTeam partners would be well-positioned to enhance competition between Miami and Heathrow. If approved, Delta would operate one daily flight on the route using Boeing 767-300ERs.
Delta’s proposed Miami-Heathrow summer 2011 schedule would see flight DL260 departing Miami International Airport (MIA) at 5:30 p.m. and landing at LHR at 7:30 a.m. the following day, local time. In the other direction, flight DL261 would leave LHR at 10:20 a.m. and reach MIA at 3:25 p.m. the same day, local time.
The airline says its proposed new service between Heathrow and Miami would complement existing transatlantic service offered by the SkyTeam alliance from Miami, including year-round flights to Paris, operated by Air France; and to Rome, operated by Alitalia.