While Delta Air Lines' clearance to begin flights between Atlanta and Shanghai, China, got lots of attention Tuesday, the airline is expected today to announce a bigger overseas expansion from its New York hub.
Delta is targeting several cities in emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East in its latest batch of new routes to be flown out of New York's John F. Kennedy airport next year.
Such moves are a shift in strategy for Delta, which in the past two years has concentrated much of its overseas expansion on routes based out of Atlanta. The carrier, which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of April, has tied much of its recovery efforts to retooling its route network to shrink domestic flying and expand its international flying, which has remained more profitable.
Delta said the latest additions are in regions expected to have faster passenger traffic growth than in the United States. The International Air Transport Association projects annual traffic growth of 6 percent in Africa and more than 5 percent in the Middle East, compared with about 2 percent in domestic markets in the United States.
To woo major corporate customers, Delta also needed to expand its offerings in New York beyond flights to Florida and its New York-Boston-Washington, D.C., shuttle, said longtime Delta executive Pam Elledge.
"Before in New York it was leisure, leisure, leisure," said Elledge, senior vice president of global sales and distribution. "Our focus is now corporate, corporate, corporate."
Among the new routes the airline is expected to announce today are JFK to Nairobi, Kenya; Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan; Malaga, Spain; and Cape Town, South Africa. Delta also plans to launch non-stop flights from JFK to several destinations currently served from Atlanta, including Tel Aviv, Israel; Edinburgh, Scotland; Dakar, Senegal; and Lagos, Nigeria. (Delta is suspending its Atlanta-Edinburgh service this fall but expects to resume seasonal service next summer.)
Delta begins service on most of the routes in June. Delta plans to start flights to Tel Aviv on March 10, subject to the Israeli government's approval, and to Edinburgh on May 1.
Between December and February, Delta also plans to launch five other recently announced routes from JFK to Latin American or Caribbean destinations, including San Jose, Costa Rica, and Guatemala City, Guatemala.
NEW ROUTES FROM N.Y.
* Tel Aviv, Israel*
* Edinburgh, Scotland
* Dakar, Senegal
* Nairobi, Kenya
* Cairo, Egypt
* Malaga, Spain
* Amman, Jordan
* Lagos, Nigeria
* Cape Town, South Africa
* Needs foreign gov't approval