Skift Take

Delta's Richard Anderson has a point: An American Airlines merger with US Airways, or perhaps another airline, would mean fewer major carriers in the U.S., and that would benefit remaining airlines. Would it benefit passengers? That's another story.

Delta Air Lines officials aren’t taken aback about the prospect of a stronger American Airlines emerging from bankruptcy.

When asked about a potentially restructuring and reinvigorated American Airlines, Delta CEO Richard Anderson, speaking to analysts after the airline announced third quarter earnings today, said Delta’s competitive advantage will allow it to sustain “the distance we have maintained between us and the rest of the industry.”

And, heralding gains in corporate marketshare in New York and Atlanta, which came at least in part at the expense of American and AirTran, Anderson vowed Delta won’t give up any marketshare.

Delta President Edward Bastion emphasized the same point about marketshare gains for the corporate market in New York and Atlanta. “I don’t anticipate there will be a dilution of that moving forward,” Bastion said.

AirTran and Southwest weakness

Referring to Atlanta, Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president of network planning and revenue management, said as Southwest and AirTran rationalize their schedules, AirTran’s capacity in Atlanta has been down about 50% from its peak, and in the Spring AirTran and Southwest had trouble filling seats.

Anderson, meanwhile, noted Delta would welcome further airline consolidation, referring obliquely to American and its merger prospects.

Further airline consolidation would be “quite good” for Delta and the industry, Anderson said, adding that Delta has the organizational structure to take advantage.

“When you think around the world, not just the U.S., industry consolidation has really helped regions around the world,” Anderson said, pointing to intense airline consolidation in Latin America as a case in point.

On other issues, Delta officials spoke about the plan to optimize its fleet by replacing, starting in 2013 and running through 2015, 50-seat regional jets with 88 Boeing 717-200s through an agreement with Boeing and AirTran. Done for cost-efficiencies and to improve the customer experience, the 717-200s seat 110 passengers each.

Delta officials said customers don’t want to fly 800-900 miles on 50-seat aircraft and prefer mainline aircraft.


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Tags: american airlines, delta air lines, mergers

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