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Delta, American to Increase Capacity Cuts in Fall

Citing weak demand and rising fuel costs, Delta announced it will expand its planned capacity cuts this fall to 10 percent overall, up from an expected 6 to 8 percent. International service will take a heavy hit, as Delta plans to eliminate an extra 5 percent of its flights overseas on top of the 10 percent already announced. Reductions are set to begin in September.

A memo sent to employees outlined some of the moves to be made, including:

  • “Suspending nonstop service from Atlanta to Seoul and Shanghai and instead routing customers for these flights over Detroit or Tokyo, or on nonstop SkyTeam partner flights.”
  • “Suspending nonstop flights from Cincinnati to Frankfurt and London-Gatwick. Cincinnati customers will still be able to reach these and many other international destinations via our other European gateways.”
  • “Suspending nonstop service between New York-JFK and Edinburgh.”
  • “Reducing weekly frequencies connecting Atlanta and Detroit to Mexico City and postponing some previously planned seasonal service between non-hub cities and Mexican beach destinations due to the impact of the H1N1 virus on customers’ travel plans.”

The memo also notes that these capacity reductions “mean we again must reassess staffing needs,” though the airline hopes to avoid involuntary furloughs.

This news hardly comes as a surprise given the current state of affairs. Just this morning, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly detailed the uphill climb his carrier faces (incidentally, Delta execs revealed these capacity cuts at the same conference Kelly was addressing). So, will other airlines expand their already planned capacity cuts for the rest of the year? Will some carriers try to tough it out in hopes of better times ahead? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

**Update, June 11** Not five minutes after initially publishing this entry, American announced expanded capacity cuts of its own. The carrier will eliminate 7.5 percent of its service in the second half of this year, an increase from 6.5 percent.

**Update, June 12** American also announced it will cut up to 1,600 jobs, or 2.4 percent of its workforce. About 75 percent of the jobs cut would be flight attendants, likely due to the capacity reductions the airline intends to enact.

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