The Analyst (Monrovia)

4 June 2012

Liberia: Delta To Cut Liberia

Photo: wikipedia
A Delta airliner

Reports say Delta Air Lines Inc. will suspend service between Atlanta and Accra, Ghana, and Monrovia, Liberia, in August amid "persistently high jet fuel prices and fluctuations in passenger demand."

The Monrovia flight is routed through Accra, which Delta had been developing as a West African hub.

Although the Atlanta flight will be phased out, Delta will increase its weekly frequency from New York to Accra from four flights to five, the airline said in a statement.

The removal of three Atlanta flights and three to Monrovia cuts the number of Delta weekly flights serving the Ghanaian capital in half. Delta still has the New York routes, which also connect in two days per week to Abuja, Nigeria.

In mid-May, Delta's Lagos, Nigeria-based commercial manager for West and East Africa said that Accra routes had been impacted "like all routes during the recent times" but gave no hint that cuts were looming.

"We're doing good business and our business is growing and we're very satisfied with it and don't see any reason that would change," Delta's Bobby Bryan said at the time.

In terms of load factor, the percentage of filled seats on a flight, the Atlanta flight actually performed better than its New York counterpart, according to a report on Accra's air capacity by CAPA - Centre for Aviation, which cited Department of Transportation data.

The Atlanta-Accra flight had a load factor of 82 percent, compared with 71 percent between Accra and New York, according to the report.

The centre speculated, however, that revenues per passenger, or yields, were lower on flights to Atlanta, which as a connecting hub was more susceptible to competition from European airlines offering cheaper one-stop alternatives.

"In a price-sensitive market like Ghana, these discounts can sway passengers," the report said.

Trebor Banstetter, a Delta spokesman, said in an email that the airline does not comment on yields for specific routes.

The cancellation comes nearly two years after Delta launched service from Atlanta to Accra in June 2010 and six months after celebrating its fifth anniversary of serving Africa.

Atlantans will still be able to reach Monrovia on a two-stop flight through New York and Accra, Mr. Banstetter said.

Delta retains two nonstop flights to Africa from Atlanta: Johannesburg and Lagos, Nigeria. The airline in February announced suspension of service to Copenhagen, Denmark; Athens, Greece; Prague, Moscow, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Shanghai from Atlanta.

Delta will operate a 208-seat Boeing 767 on flights to Ghana this summer, Mr. Banstetter said.

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