Delta adding flights to its N.Y. hub

BWI will share in airline's stepped-up service to Kennedy this summer


Troubled carrier Delta Air Lines Inc. announced yesterday that it would add dozens of flights to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, including from Baltimore, in a bid to boost its overseas and cross-country hub.

The move will give cities with limited international departures a bit more access to Europe and beyond and potentially improve the fortunes of the nation's third-largest airline, which continues to lose money after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and making deep cuts in its domestic service and work force.

"This summer's expansion at JFK will significantly increase the convenience of choosing Delta for travel between the U.S. and destinations around the world, thanks to Delta's extensive offering of flights to 31 international destinations from JFK," Jim Whitehurst, Delta's chief operating officer, said in a conference call from New York.

He said that the airline would join other airlines in capitalizing on the demand - and higher fares - for overseas travel by adding 46 flights from 17 cities to the New York hub.

Kennedy, used more as a connecting point than for local New York traffic, will especially benefit passengers in places such as Baltimore; Richmond, Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Providence, R.I; Cleveland; and Buffalo, N.Y., that have few direct international options, said Dan Kasper, managing director of LECG, a Cambridge, Mass., airline consulting firm.

Longer-haul cities added to the lineup include Las Vegas, San Diego and Montreal.

The fares were not announced and will depend on demand to specific destinations, Whitehurst said.

Shifting routes

Kasper said many major carriers have been shifting domestic routes to international ones largely because the international market is a frontier mostly untrod by the discount carriers that have pushed down fares. Price competition and huge fuel bills have pushed several carriers, including Delta, into U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

"International markets have been stronger," Kasper said. "Other carriers have been adding service for several years, and Delta has not been as aggressive in its expansion."

Delta plans on using small jets and turboprop planes operated by regional carriers Comair and Freedom Airlines to deliver passengers to Kennedy. They mainly will arrive and take off in the mornings and evenings to avoid the midday crush of flights, including most international ones.

Until these flights, which will be added between June and September, Delta flew most of its international connections through Atlanta and Cincinnati.

Delta currently offers 23 daily flights from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and New York's Kennedy. BWI currently has two flights daily to Kennedy.

Baltimore's three new flights will be added Sept. 5.

For 2005, the airline flew 1.34 million passengers through BWI, making it the fourth- largest carrier there with almost 7 percent of the market, according to the airport.

Benefiting customer

"These additional flights will benefit the BWI customer who connects with Delta's impressive and growing international network," said Jonathan Dean, an airport spokesman.

"But it's more than that. The [origination and destination] traveler will also benefit. Now more than ever JFK equals Manhattan. Business travelers from Baltimore and Washington can fly to JFK and take the AirTrain to Midtown."

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