Delta pulls plug on discount carrier Song

October 29, 2005|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

Delta Air Lines is discontinuing Song, the discount carrier it launched 2 1/2 years ago to do battle with other low-cost airlines in Florida and other East Coast markets.

Song's operations will be absorbed into Delta's in May, Delta announced yesterday.

The seat-back televisions, MP3 players and gourmet snack and meal options might disappear from some shorter routes, such as flights to Northeastern cities, Delta officials said.

Delta, now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, launched Song in 2003 in an effort to take on Southwest and JetBlue Airways on routes along the East Coast.

Chief Marketing Officer Paul Matsen said all Delta planes will be upgraded with leather seats next year, and Delta crews will switch to new, designer uniforms by Richard Tyler in March. But Song's entertainment options will be limited, at least initially, to only part of the fleet.

"One of our goals is really to refresh and contemporize the Delta experience," Matsen said. "We're bringing the Song attributes into Delta."

Since Delta filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in September, a new strategy has emerged: to become a major international carrier and to emphasize an upscale business class on domestic flights - something absent from Song.

Earlier this month, Delta announced new service to 10 international cities from Atlanta and New York and said it will shift some of its bigger, wide-body planes to those destinations.

First-class seats will be added to Song's 48 Boeing Co. 757-200 aircraft, which will be shifted to transcontinental service to attract more business travelers. Delta will also update another 50 planes with leather seats, seat-back TVs and new interiors.

Those planes will be used on cross-country flights beginning next fall and eventually on all flights of more than 1,750 miles.

Song planes will be repainted to blend with the rest of Delta's fleet, though the Song brand won't disappear entirely. Matsen said on flights with seat-back entertainment, the Song logo will likely appear on the plane's interior.

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