On Friday, May 25, Delta will begin two services to Portugal: Atlanta-Lisbon (daily) and JFK-Ponta Delgada, which is in the Azores Islands (5 days per week).
Corneel Koster, Delta’s Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India; Olivia Cullis, Regional Director of Corporate Communications; and Frederic Schenk, the new Regional Director of Sales for Southern Europe gave a press conference on the new services.
The conference started with a video showing the best moments of Delta in the last 2 years, like the delivery of the carrier’s first A350, a partnership with Aeromexico, and reaching the milestone of 1,047,887 departures.
Over 130 US companies have ties in Portugal. The US is the largest trading partner for Portugal outside the EU, so, for Delta, it’s a very important new market, as it provides business travelers with a stronger connection between the two countries.
“About 43,000 passengers flew with Delta between New York and Lisbon in 2017, a vigorous performance that reflected the high demand for a year-round flight,” said Koster. “Simultaneously, a route from Lisbon to Atlanta and another from the beautiful islands of Azores means that there has never been so much choice to the US.”
This year, Delta will offer more than 7400 seats in the market per week in hight moths of summer.
Koster added, “Portugal and the Azores are growing in popularity among US tourists, as evidenced by the 30% jump in the number of American visitors in Portugal last year. Delta’s significant growth in the market will support this upward trend and benefit the local economy through increased tourism.”
For Delta, one of the main reasons for a flight to Ponta Delgada is the unique beauty, charm, and discovery that the archipelago has to offer. The beautiful scenery makes the islands a popular tourist destination, and Delta is sure that the Americans will love it. Another reason is that many of the Portuguese emigrants in the US are from the Azores, which can facilitate the trip between the Azores and the US.
According to Schnek, sales on the new routes are going well. Delta has good expectations going forward and notes that the vast majority of the buyers are from US (in case of the Azores route). Schenk said that the possibility of year-round service to the Azores Islands is possible. This option will be judged based on the performance of the route over the summer.
On the two flights, Delta will offer Wi-Fi, free mobile messaging (via apps such as Whatsapp, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger), and more than 1000 hours of entertainment in Delta Studio.
Lisbon-Atlanta will be operated with a Boeing 767-300ER, but the route could potentially be operated by the A350 in the future. At the moment, the A350 operates the flights over Pacific for Delta. The only European route that Delta operates with the A350 connects Detroit and Amsterdam. The Azores service will be operated by a 757-200ER.
Prices for a flight between Atlanta and Lisbon start at €622 (USD$728) with economy class and €2754 (USD$3223) is business class. Prices on the JFK-Lisbon route start at €476 (USD$557) for economy class and €1990 ($USD2329) for business class.
When asked about the potential for new European routes going, the Delta representatives declined to comment in order to accurately gauge competition based on the current market. Representatives further said that Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, has not yet been considered as a destination, but may be added in the future as the market evolves.
All images by the author unless otherwise noted
Featured image by Delta Air Lines