Delta Will Fly To London Gatwick Airport To Stick It To JetBlue And Norse Atlantic

The U.S. government is afraid of market concentration and going after American Airlines and JetBlue, the number three and four airlines in New York, while protecting number one and two players Delta and United.

The federal anti-trust cops are similarly worried about JetBlue acquiring smaller Spirit Airlines – on the one hand claiming in the American Airlines trial that JetBlue is a disruptor that must be preserved, and on the other hand saying that JetBlue is just like everyone else and will bring that same-ness to Spirit.

While we’re having these arguments about competition law, Delta Air Lines engage in classic anti-competitive flying. They now have service from New York JFK to London’s Gatwick airport.

  • Delta hasn’t served Gatwick since gaining access to Heathrow
  • Virgin Atlantic, 49% owned by Delta, pulled out of Gatwick

So why are they bringing a single flight to the airport?

  • JetBlue is now flying to Gatwick
  • Norse Atlantic – the new Norwegian – is discounting Atlantic crossings from Gatwick

In fact, Delta is even offering an afternoon departure from Gatwick just like JetBlue and Norse Atlantic.

Flight Departs Arrives
DL199 London Gatwick at 14:10 New York-JFK at 17:00
DL198 New York-JFK at 23:35 London Gatwick at 12:00 (next day)

Before the pandemic, when Norwegian was operating the route, Delta planned to fly to Gatwick using a Boeing 757 without Delta Suites. It was totally obvious what they were doing, with a product well-matched to Norwegian’s.

This was supposed to start in May 2020, but didn’t happen because of the pandemic – and because Norwegian ceased its transatlantic flying. Now that JetBlue offers a real business class on the route, Delta has upgraded to a Boeing 767.

Gatwick isn’t an airport Delta has economic interest in. They just want to make serving London to the U.S. harder for JetBlue and Norwegian.

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 »

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  1. *English Accent* “Ah yes, here we are in nature. It looks like Sir Gary Leff has layed the perfect trap for Tim Dunn to rage post on.”

  2. Gary is apparently ignorant of the fact that British Airways also flies JFK to LGW – or else he thinks that Delta doesn’t need to compete with them.

    He also doesn’t realize that Delta does not fly the 757 across the Atlantic at all. not to LGW not to anywhere.

    Gary might know that Delta is now firmly the largest airline at both JFK and BOS (the latter at least by revenue) – and Delta is making money while JetBlue is not.

    There is absolutely no basis for a charge of anti-competitive behavior if a company can demonstrate that they can make money and don’t undercut the competition. It is, in fact, JetBlue that has yet to prove it can make money flying the Atlantic – and since it doesn’t make money on its existing network , it is a stretch to think they will make money flying the Atlantic. And it is B6 that has built its transatlantic strategies around undercutting competitors.

  3. @Tim Dunn – Delta literally announced they were going to fly to LGW with a 757 before the pandemic, when Norwegian was operating the route (and JetBlue wasn’t) so I don’t know why you’d suggest that I ‘don’t realize’ what aircraft Delta operates where. It was Delta that said they were going to do it, before the pandemic hit and before Norwegian stopped flying long haul.

    And Delta wasn’t worried about BA’s diminished LGW operation, BA flies to Heathrow and they compete already. It’s about new supposed disruptors in the market. Delta has no other interest in LGW, which is why Virgin Atlantic itself abandoned LGW.

    This is no different than when AA entered the DFW-KEF market when Wow Air and Icelandair entered the market, then dropped it when they left, and Doug Parker went so far as to say they were flying the route because those competitors were doing it

  4. @Gary: What you have described is a textbook example of competitive, competition-increasing behavior.

    There is plenty of anti-consumer behavior to criticise Delta for. This is not it.

  5. Yes, today’s discussion of competition is pretty much wrong on every aspect. Going from four major competitors to three reduces competition — so it’s completely reasonable and rational to opposed the AA J6 joint venture on competition grounds. For decades anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions were approved based on alleged “efficiencies” without regard to changes in market power. Similarly, how is preserving two competitors — including one that is a true low-cost carrier that provides competitive pressure for all both low cost and full service carriers — anti-consumer or anti-competitive? And then you complain about Delta opening up a new route to compete with others — it’s not like JFK is Delta’s fortress hub, for starters. Opening up new routes is argument you’ve used to write glowingly about the AA J6 alliance.

  6. So Delta was just supposed to allow B6 a free run at LGW? This is just good business, if B6 and Norse have developed a market on the route it makes sense for Delta to compete for market share. Competition is good for consumers, nothing to see here.

  7. Northwest used to fly to LGW, but back then I tried to avoid LGW like the plague.

    Delta not only dislikes TATL LCC type carriers, it and the other cartel kingpins di things like this to strike back. Sort of like with Delta, United and American’s conniptions over Icelandic carrier flights.

  8. L3 gets it
    Whether DL used a 757 in the past is not the issue, Gary.
    The point is that DL uses the 767-300ER as the smallest fully transatlantic aircraft; they didn’t increase the size of the airplane to dump a higher product or more seats but because the 757 is not in DL’s transatlantic fleet.

  9. AA and BA too has an interest in not seeing LCC type carriers succeed on LGW-US routes. The US airline industry cartel kingpins and their revenue-sharing foreign collaborators do things like this in order to try to discipline those who don’t stick to the mold and intrude on their territory.

  10. @Tim Dunn – you are missing the point still. The 757 was simply a reference to their past choice that was clearly about matching product in the market.

  11. DL just lost money in a quarter they should have made money or broke even. I think the pay increases. old planes and free internet are catching up to them. Also, DL isn’t the DL of the past. Service is average, food is below average and lot of tech on their planes just don’t work. They may want to stop thinking their @#$% doesn’t stink and get back to basics. I’ve said since 2019 the decline of DL is upon us and this is just more proof.

  12. Delta list money because of $860 million in pilot retro expenses which every other of the big 4 will pay. Absent that Delta made hundreds of millions of dollars.
    Delta’s guidance is very strong including for international
    They are already printing money to Europe as are AA and UA and the zEuro legacies
    Whatever reference Gary want to use is meaningless as justification for dumping because Delta no longer uses the 757 to Europe just like BA

  13. It would be a tad tricky for BA to use a 757 to cross the Atlantic these days… 😉 Delta still has their 757s, BA does not.
    And Delta does use the 757 to Europe. As someone pointed out above, they fly it exclusively to Iceland from three hubs. Before you start your usual redirect and obfuscation about KEF not being a part of Europe, keep in mind DELTA defines Iceland as part of Europe in their JV application to DOT.

  14. I know full well that Delta flies to Iceland and uses the 757 which is why I noted at least once “full transatlantic”

    And Delta has made it clear that it does not intend to compete to the UK or continental Europe with narrowbodies including to buy the A321XLR.

    It is fine to note that Delta has increased capacity on the SINGLE flight it is operating – but it is not valid to argue that Delta is dumping capacity by doing so.

    And I still don’t get the selective rage about Delta adding a single 767-300ER to LGW but British Airways specifically reconfigured 777-200ERs with even more seats than usual for that fleet so they could compete at LGW.

    Competition is good. LGW is still open for all US and UK carriers and that is good

  15. While it’s cute that you’re now trying to save face and use new terms like “Full Transatlantic”, 1. You never used those words.
    2. You said Europe and Transatlantic. Both terms that refer to Iceland as Delta defines it in their application to DOT and a country which shares Profits as part of the AF/DL/KL/VS Transatlantic joint venture.
    Just admit you’re wrong and move on. It would help you out a lot in life.

    This JFK-LGW flight is the exact same idea of AA adding DFW-KEF as a “competitive response” — A loss making flight (airport) that Delta will drop, most likely, as they try to push B6 out of the market. Delta has been sharing revenue data with VS for years now. They’re well aware the revenue pros/cons of Gatwick. There’s a reason they never started this route until B6 announced it. It’s pretty clear this isn’t about Norse. Delta never responded to that entry from Norwegian years ago, they responded to their large JFK competitor, B6.

  16. B6 isn’t going anywhere in tatl. JFK-LGW is profitable, as is jfk-lhr with now matched delta frequency. And contrary to Tim Dunn novel form of facts. B6 is profitable. And now with skyrocketing costs at delta, will be less competitive. If there is a recession in the later part of 2023, I can’t see jfk-lgw sticking around.

  17. Listen all…Gary gets paid to make these comments. I’m betting none of you have any street cred within the aviation community. (To make it clear, nobody is paying you that is related to a airline)
    I am a JetBlue pilot. JetBlue pays me, so I have cred. Trying to make Gary look incorrect by not listening to what he says, and making it fit your agenda, doesn’t earn you cred. Whether it’s a 757, or 767, or transatlantic vice Iceland, he’s making points based on previous facts. Not ignorant opinions from a bunch of LOSERS, WHO never worked in the airline industry. And if you did, you weren’t a pilot or schedules person. Good Day!

  18. JetBlur is not guiding to being profitable in the first quarter and there is absolutely no public data yet on their transatlantic profits or losses. The big 3 are profitable and are seeing very strong international revenues. There simply is no track record for consistently profitable narrow body transatlantic operations.
    None of which changes that British Airways and Delta have long track records of operating from Gatwick which has nothing to do with JetBlue or any other carrier
    Some love to think of Delta as some weak impotent fledgling even though actual data says quite the opposite.
    If is far more significant how much Delta has grown in Boston and there isn’t a shred of evidence that they did that by anything other than good old fashioned competition

  19. Rich
    You are qualified and paid to fly a plane. Your two cents about the business of aviation is worth the same as everyone else including Gary

  20. Only in the airline world would an airline actually competing with service, price, and schedule is called “anti-competitive.”

    Delta has no monopoly on the route, doesn’t have excess capacity or loads of cash to run a lossmaking route just to stick it to competitors. Customers are free to choose JetBlue, Norse, British Airways on the route. Delta flyers now have a choice of airports in London, and those that fly JetBlue, Norse and BA have another competitor to keep their airlines in check.

    Was it “anti-competitive” when Delta entered Seattle and Boston and won market share? “Anti-competitive” as Delta builds out LAX? But it is somehow “pro-competition” when American Airlines gives up in New York and instead decides to collude with a competitor…

  21. Tim, your precious delta posted a loss the 1st quarter just today, as will every airline based on guidance in the environment we live in today. Delta doesn’t operate in a vacuum. If you feel like your always being criticized, by almost everyone, maybe you should reflect on how you always frame your answers, which lack impartiality.

  22. dartagin,
    Delta lost money because of the massive retro checks it wrote to pilots as part of its new pilot contract.
    Because Delta actually signed a new contract w/ its pilots and increased pay for its non-pilot, non-union personnel, Delta is the ONLY US airline that has increased pay across the board for its employees.
    It is actually every other airline that will see losses as they have to write those kinds of massive checks.
    Even w/ the massive retro checks, DAL will still outperform most of the rest of the industry this year.

    None of which changes that any half-objective person – which does not include Gary – can see that Delta is playing in a competitive market. And they are doing it fairly and will make money.

    It is actually JetBlue that is at high risk of not making money – not just flying to LGW but across their entire network.

  23. Delta are like a prodigal son to Gatwick. Just like Westjet everyone at LGW knows they always have a deep affection and will come back at some point. Their passengers. Staff always knew this. Gatwick does not have some of the lucrative international connections offered at Heathrow. This a was big motivation for Deltas move. Airlines like Rwandair. Ethiopian. Tianjin. Vietnam. Air China. Singapore, have also left for same reasons even though Air China are now back. Gatwick is easy to navigate. Very convenient for passengers south of M25 and growing connections to popular and unusual destinations like Sudan. Banjul.

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