Note: This article is one in a four-part series on low points of 2009. Overview
While they understood the economic realities Delta faced, many Atlanta business travelers nevertheless met the flight suspensions with disappointment.
Ani Agnihotri, founder and managing partner of the Atlanta-based U.S.-India Business and Research Center, took the Atlanta to Mumbai flight four times, including the inaugural flight in 2008. Although he understands Delta's need to cut costs, Mr. Agnihotri said suspending the flight was still "very difficult and heartbreaking," for frequent travelers to India.
Nonstop flights are particularly important to business travelers who are on short trips and pressed for time, he said. "Non-stop flights save 20-25 percent of your time. If you are only there for a week, saving half a day means a lot."
Lani Wong, chair of the National Association of Chinese-Americans, called the loss of the Shanghai flight "devastating" because of all the hard work that went into attracting it.
Delta’s scheduled launch of a flight from Atlanta to Nairobi, Kenya, was halted the day before its launch because of U.S. government security concerns. The flight remains on hold.
There were some positive developments for Delta in 2009. Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines Corp. was finalized in 2009, and Delta reconfigured routes to Shanghai and Hong Kong through Northwest's Detroit hub. But there are still no Delta flights from the U.S. to India, even under the merged systems.
Delta and Australian carrier Virgin Blue Airlines Group in 2009 agreed to start selling tickets on some of the other airline's flights, an arrangement known as codesharing.
Six routes are available for codeshare booking for connecting flights. Passengers on Virgin Blue’s long-haul carrier, V Australia, can book tickets for travel beginning Jan. 18 on four Delta routes between Los Angeles and Cincinnati;. New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport; Orlando, Fla., and Salt Lake City.
Delta customers can book tickets for travel beginning Feb. 15 on two Virgin Blue flights between Sydney and Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia.
Delta in 2009 also began negotiations to buy a minority stake in Japan Airllines. If the deal works out, Delta passengers would gain access to JAL flights in Asia.
Meanwhile, Delta announced in October plans to add a thrice-weekly flight from Atlanta to Tokyo-Narita starting this summer to complement existing daily service there. In June, it will also add a flight from Atlanta to Accra, Ghana, three times weekly.
This article is one in a four-part series on low points of 2009: