Delta Expects to Grow in Africa

A month ago Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in an “Ask Ed Anything” segment,

Africa is a growing, developing continent. Still relatively small in the scheme of things but I think over time it’s going to grow to a large theater of operation for us. Today Delta is the largest carrier to Africa from the US. While some of the other carriers have dropped out over the last number of years, we haven’t, we’ve stayed strong in Africa.

We’re going to look to continue to grow not only the flying we do there but also the work that we do with Kenya Airways which is one of our partners in Africa through Nairobi and other places that we can serve beyond.

Kenya Airways is another subsidized carrier Delta favors working with. The troubled carrier became largely government owned a year ago to salvage it, while diluting private owners including Air France KLM.

Bastian says “Africa’s an interesting continent.” He expects rising commodity prices to drive increased business travel to Africa “which will drive more opportunities” for Delta service.

A larger presence in Africa might force them to loosen restrictions on award tickets booked from there.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. He just boasting that United couldn’t make Lagos work Apart from JNB all the other routes are “long and thin”, so that may just mean they start JFK-JNB when SA inevitably folds sooner or later.

  2. Given how profitable these routes generally are it’s surprising they haven’t added more routes. I can never find good award availability to Dakar or Accra and no surprise they want zillions of points in economy.

    They learned from AA’s South America playbook on how to get the most $ out of underserved routes (e.g. La Paz, Montevideo)

  3. Quite often JNB-ATL and viceversa reduces pax to accommodate quite valuable cargo, some of the most valuable cargo flights are on this route.

    Also biz fares are eye watering even 50 days out at times, not surprising given the demand and also I think they have the GSA route. I’m amazed also by the number of NGO flyers on this route.

  4. I’ve rarely seen more than a couple empty seats in business class on my flights to Africa, none of those flights have been with Delta, but Emirates and Air France and RAM…seem to be selling business class seats. One thing Ed is not going to like is that competing in Africa is going to mean competing with Emirates. I like Delta in North America and to Europe, but if I am choosing between Emirates or Delta to Africa, and choosing between connecting in Dubai or Nairobi, I will be flying Emirates 100% of the time, even if the route is a few hours longer.

    Emirates, Turkish and some of the other players also have the advantage of pulling passengers from Asia, and that’s where a substantial portion of the business class traffic is coming from.

  5. @ Steven M “They learned from AA’s South America playbook on how to get the most $ out of underserved routes (e.g. La Paz, Montevideo)”

    I agree. Go where others don’t want to go, then you’ll be on top when the others wise up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *