A ‘Rationalized’ Delta is Climbing

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Airports can be successful only if airlines are successful, said Ed Bastian, president of Delta Air Lines, in the keynote speech opening the 2013 ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Conference in Delta’s hometown of Atlanta.

Delta President Ed Bastian

Bastian noted that the airlines are at their most financially stable point in their history. He attributed this to the consolidation of the number of major carriers from eight to four. The carriers are now focused on capacity management rather than building market share at any cost. The key word throughout the presentation was “rationalization” applied to every step of the decision-making process.

As part of the process, Delta is dramatically reduce the number of 50-seat regional jets in its fleet. These routes are being upgrade with mainline service, Bastian said. Some communities are now seeing mainline service for the first time in years; however, some of the routes are no longer financially sustainable with the larger planes.

Bastian advocated two positions opposed by ACI-NA — a national airline policy and opposition to a hike in the passenger facility charge. Bastian said the U.S. carriers need a national airline policy to have a level-playing field to compete globally with other carriers. An element of such a policy would be to reduce the regulatory burden on carriers.

ACI-NA’s position is that the U.S. needs a national aviation policy that balances the needs of all players, including airports.

Bastian said a hike in the PFC is not need for airports to make improvements. He pointed the recently completed its terminal at JFK, the Atlanta international terminal and improvements now underway in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis.