Delta cancels Dubai flights amidst ME3 competition

29 Oct 2015 by Clement Huang

In yet another development to the Open Skies battle between US carriers and the Gulf airlines, Delta Air Lines (Delta) has revealed that it will no longer serve its Atlanta–Dubai route from February 11, 2016.

According to the US carrier, the cancellation is due to “overcapacity on US routes to the Middle East operated by government-owned and heavily subsidised airlines”. It also follows news in August, when Delta announced that it would be reducing its daily service to a five-times weekly.

The B777 aircraft currently serving the route will be redeployed to other Trans-Atlantic markets, which according to Delta, will allow it to “compete on a level playing field that’s no distorted by subsidised state-owned airlines”.

Delta further stated that between 2008 and 2014, about 11,000 daily seats were added for flights between the US and Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi – with 95 per cent of that being operated by Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

In particular, the Skyteam member noted that out of the 14 existing daily flights between the US and Dubai, only two are operated by US carriers. While loads for these flights have been steadily increasing, Delta argued that flight frequencies have remained flat.

Despite the hurdles that Delta faces in the Middle East market, the US carrier is currently enjoying one of its best quarters, with a US$1.4 billion profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations, and led to a healthy rise in share prices.

Delta chief executive Richard Anderson attributed the successful quarter to the relatively low fuel prices, operational performance and steady demand for travel. This is set to continue.

Speaking to CNBC, Andrerson said: “As we look out at Q4, we’re expecting another record quarter – 16 to 18 per cent up margin.”

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Clement Huang

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