Delta Acquiring New York-London Route

Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, said Friday it has reached a deal worth up to $21 million with UAL Corp.'s United Airlines to acquire the authority to provide nonstop service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London.

Delta has been trying for a decade to get authority to operate flights to London from JFK.

Terms of the deal, which is subject to U.S. Department of Transportation and bankruptcy court approval, call for Delta to pay United $13 million at closing and $2 million a year for four years, Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said.

She added that the subsequent payments will stop if an open skies agreement allowing greater access by airlines to destinations in other countries is reached.

Atlanta-based Delta said that if the deal with Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based United is approved, its first daily round-trip flight between JFK and London's Gatwick Airport would begin later this year with a second flight beginning in spring 2007.

Delta also wants to serve London's Heathrow Airport. It said it supports an open skies agreement between the United States and Europe that would allow it to do that.

Since filing for bankruptcy in September 2005, Delta has ramped up its international operations, and New York has been a big part of that expansion.

It believes the JFK to London route will help it expand its options in the international market.

With the addition of service to London, Delta will serve 22 trans-Atlantic markets nonstop from JFK.

Delta said it plans to operate the new flights with its 214-passenger Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

Delta is spending more than $20 million on renovations to its Terminal 2 and 3 facilities at JFK. The changes include the addition of a new, dedicated BusinessElite check-in area in Terminal 2, refurbishing the customs and immigrations entrance, refreshing facilities in Deltas BusinessElite lounge and Crown Room clubs, and adding new international check-in kiosks throughout the facility.

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