Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia to cull transatlantic flights

Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia to cull transatlantic flights

Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and Alitalia have announced plans to cut their transatlantic services from autumn against a backdrop of rising fuel prices and excess capacity. The reductions are likely to push fares higher and leave passengers with fewer choices.

Delta began adding more transatlantic services in November 2010 with new services from Boston and Miami to London, as well as additional flights from New York to Paris and Seattle to Amsterdam.

However the three airlines, which have signed a transatlantic partnership, said collectively they would cut capacity by seven percent to nine percent.

Delta President Ed Bastian said the changes would include cutting some markets and reducing flights to others, but did not specify which routes would go.

The joint venture between Delta and Air France-KLM currently uses 144 planes on 260 daily flights.

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Bastian said Delta alone would cut flying across the Atlantic 10 percent to 12 percent starting after Labour Day in early September.

Antitrust laws normally prohibit airlines from working together on routes and fares.

However Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia have gained government exemption that allows them to coordinate, and to share revenue from the flights. They still compete with other joint ventures including BA and Iberia.

“We’re really moving our joint venture to be a single airline for purposes of planning” flying across the Atlantic,” said Anderson.

Other joint ventures are expected to cut capacity to Europe, too.

Fuel prices have risen almost 27 percent as of March compared with March 2010, according to the Air Transport Association.