Sat, Jan 14, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Delta Air pulling out of Taiwan market

ALTERNATIVES:The US carrier’s withdrawal is expected to have a limited impact, as there are plenty of flight options between Taoyuan and Narita, travel agencies said

Staff writer, with CNA

US carrier Delta Air Lines Inc yesterday said it would terminate all services to Taiwan effective May 25.

Delta currently operates one round-trip flight per day between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Narita Airport in Tokyo, catering mostly to passengers traveling to and from the US via Japan.

The flight between Taoyuan and Narita on May 24 will be the last one on that route, the carrier said.

Delta said it plans to shift more flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport, but did not explain why that would mean closing the Taiwan route, which it has operated since 2010.

The US-based Star Tribune said in a report in August last year that Delta was ending some of its Narita routes as a result of changes to aviation rules.

The newspaper said the decision signaled a shift in Delta’s Asia model away from megahubs and toward direct flights.

The airline was seeking to rework its Asia network map to make it competitive with other large US carriers that were vying for dominance in the region, the Tribune said.

Delta has fewer connecting routes to other Asian destinations via Haneda, because it lacks partners with fortress hubs there, the report added.

“Without a significant network restructuring, Delta’s position in the region would be significantly weakened,” Delta senior vice president of Asia Pacific Vinay Dube said.

Delta shares dropped 1.1 percent on Thursday in New York trading after the company reported a 37 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit.

The airline’s net income fell to US$622 million due to a small drop in revenue and the costs of new pilot labor contracts.

The previous year, Delta earned US$980 million.

Delta said passengers in Taiwan affected by its latest decision would be transferred to members of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance, which includes China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) and Korean Air Lines Co.

Local travel agencies said the impact of Delta’s withdrawal from Taiwan was likely to be limited.

Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅行社) and Star Travel Corp (燦星旅遊) said the number of travelers affected might be less than 1 percent of their total customers since there are plenty of flight options between Taoyuan and Narita, including flights on budget airlines.

Passengers who wish to take direct flights from Taiwan to the US can also choose China Airlines, EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) or United Airlines, the travel agencies said.

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