The North Atlantic market is potentially one of the most lucrative in the world for airlines. Known for its rich pickings, especially in the heady months of summer, it can equally become a graveyard in the stormy months of winter.
Competitive pressure is intense and only the fittest airlines succeed in delivering profits. In this year’s WTM panel on 3rd November we’ll hear from two companies who have found different ways to survive and prosper in this challenging market.
Delta Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines and in recent years has experienced something of a renaissance. Having come out of US bankruptcy protection, its fleet and network have been rationalised to deliver impressive profits. It has established a powerful position in the Europe-US market with its partner Air France KLM and is increasingly exploiting its strength at London’s Heathrow Airport with its other strategic partner, Virgin Atlantic, in which it became a 49% shareholder in June 2013. The airline is now focussing a good deal of attention on its customer service, something which is critical to success and has, historically, been a weak point for American carriers.
Taking a different position in the market place is Icelandair. Making good use of Iceland’s natural position as halfway point between North America and Europe, the airline is building up an increasingly impressive portfolio of US and Canadian cities which it connects via its Reykjavik hub to a broad range of European markets, including several UK cities. In addition the airline is tapping into the growing popularity of Iceland as an end destination. It has survived the financial crisis which hit Iceland first as well as the 2010 volcanic eruption to carve out a profitable niche in this highly contested market.
We’ll learn more at the panel on 3rd November but for Delta and Icelandair the North Atlantic looks to be airline heaven.