The war in the Persian Gulf and the soaring price of aviation fuel that has ensued in its wake have not made life easy for the airlines industry, but Delta Air Lines is flying all of its routes as usual and even its expansion plans remain on target.
Sam K. Murphy, Salt Lake City-based district marketing manager for Delta, told the Utah Air Travel Commission this week that despite the much-publicized travails of bankrupt Eastern Airlines as well as those of Pan American and TWA, Delta continues to add airport gates and routes that will ultimately benefit the Utah air traveler.Murphy told commissioners that once the gulf war is over, Delta will be well-positioned to continue its growth plans. Even now, the Atlanta-based airline, with a major Salt Lake hub, is not waiting around.
Delta this week inaugurated service from Los Angeles to Tokyo on the new, long-range, McDonnell Douglas MD-11 jets, the first U.S. carrier to use the new planes.
Delta also began non-stop service on L-1011 jumbo jets out of Portland, Ore., to Nagoya, Japan. On May 2, Delta will begin service from Atlanta to Copenhagen, Denmark, and on May 7 will begin non-stop service from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
Murphy said Delta will add 64 daily flights in 15 new markets with 21 new aircraft between now and April 1. On that date, Delta will be operating a total of 2,560 flights daily to 181 cities around the world.
The 21 new planes represent the largest number Delta has ever added to the fleet in a single month.
By April 1, Murphy said Delta's jet fleet will total 460 craft with an average age of less than 9 years, the youngest of any of the eight largest U.S. carriers.
Commenting on the Eastern Airlines bankruptcy auction, Murphy said Delta has agreed to purchase up to $164.6 million in assets from Eastern. It is subject to final approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Last month, commissioners expressed concern that the plans announced by American and United airlines to acquire U.S.-to-London routes that have been flown by troubled TWA and Pan Am might degrade Utah's international service.
United agreed in October to buy most of Pan Am's London routes for $400 million. American plans to buy TWA's London and other overseas routes for $445 million. If approved, American and United would control two-thirds of the non-stop U.S.-London routes.
That disturbs Delta, which has said it does not oppose route transfers, as such, but fears the creation of a monopoly situation between the two giants, United and American. Delta Chairman Ronald W. Allen has said that, if approved, the route transfers would create "the potential of a virtual U.S.-flag duopoly across the Atlantic."
At its January meeting, commissioners asked that representatives of American, which has 11 flights a day out of Salt Lake City, and TWA, which has three daily flights, report to the UATC at this week's meeting on how the route transfers would affect Utah.
Representatives of neither airline were present at Wednesday's meeting. Monte Yeager, UATC executive coordinator, said it was not a slight by American and TWA, but simply that they were not prepared to make a public statement concerning the agreements.
- In other action, UATC counsel William Gibbs reported that attempts to have commissioners Yan M. Ross and Frank E. Moss appointed to third terms on the commission by Mayor Palmer DePaulis - regulations currently call for two terms - have apparently failed and the two men will be replaced on the board.
Robert Springmeyer has also completed two terms but since he is currently UATC vice chairman and due to serve as chairman following the term of Chairman Steve Lawson, he may be reappointed.
That decision is expected to be made, probably by the City Council, next week. Under current rules the vice chairman serves for a year and then becomes chairman.
In any case, Salt Lake businessman John Klas has been appointed by the city to a three-year term on the board. If Springmeyer is not reappointed, that leaves two more empty seats of those the city is obliged to fill.