Detroit needs choices be­sides Delta

The Detroit News - - Business - BY DEN­NIS LEN­NOX

Detroit de­serves more than Delta Air­lines. While not the home­town air­line, At­lantabased Delta is more of­ten than not the only choice out of Detroit Metropoli­tan Air­port.

Sure, there’s some com­pe­ti­tion — Spirit is Detroit’s sec­ond-big­gest car­rier — but it’s not enough. Busi­ness trav­el­ers and those fly­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally are of­ten forced to pay dou­ble what it costs to fly out of Toronto and Chicago.

For per­spec­tive let’s look at a hy­po­thet­i­cal trip to Lon­don in mid-May. Round-trip, non-stop econ­omy-class air­fare on Delta is $1,334, ac­cord­ing to a Google Flights search. Fly­ing Delta for the same dates out of Chicago re­turned an air­fare of $671 with a con­nec­tion in New York. With the $663 sav­ings, I could fly to Chicago and still have plenty of money left to ei­ther spend in Lon­don or, bet­ter yet, save to­ward a fu­ture trip.

Delta’s mo­nop­oly in Detroit was guar­an­teed af­ter the merger with North­west Air­lines 10 years ago.

The mo­nop­oly is ob­vi­ous when you con­sider the fact that south­east­ern Michi­gan is home to one of the largest Mid­dle Eastern com­mu­ni­ties out­side the Mid­dle East. Pre­sum­ably, this would make Detroit’s air­port at­trac­tive for Emi­rates, Qatar or Eti­had, the Mid­dle Eastern air­lines known for their lav­ish premium classes of ser­vice. Per­haps even Turk­ish Air­lines. Yet, the only op­tion is a Royal Jor­da­nian flight that first stops in Mon­treal.

When Qatar ex­panded to At­lanta, Delta re­sponded with vengeance by cut­ting ties with a com­mu­nity the­ater that took money from the air­port’s new­est air­line.

Delta only tol­er­ates com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Amer­i­can and United, which have their own re­gional mo­nop­o­lies thanks in part to air­line merg­ers.

The mo­nop­o­lies are also backed up by some­thing called cab­o­tage, a mer­can­tilist fed­eral reg­u­la­tion that de­nies con­sumers choice by gen­er­ally pro­hibit­ing a for­eign-flagged air­line from fly­ing be­tween two U.S. air­ports. This makes it un­law­ful to fly Air Canada from Detroit to Bos­ton through Toronto.

More egre­giously is the fake news that Delta pub­lishes about the Mid­dle Eastern air­lines for pur­port­edly re­ceiv­ing sub­si­dies from their re­spec­tive govern­ments. Never mind the fact that Delta, Amer­i­can and United have re­ceived over $71 bil­lion in gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies and crony­cap­i­tal­ist tax breaks since 2000, ac­cord­ing to re­search from 2015.

De­spite ben­e­fit­ing from reg­u­la­tion and sub­si­dies Delta didn’t even buy Amer­i­can when it came time to re­place the Boe­ing 747 as its flag­ship. In­stead, it went with Euro­pean air­craft maker Air­bus.

Delta’s hypocrisy is ev­i­dent in its ex­ten­sive part­ner­ship with China Eastern, an air­line owned by the com­mu­nist Chi­nese state. Coin­ci­den­tally, the part­ner­ship was ex­panded around the same time that Delta gut­ted its pres­ence in Tokyo and ended ser­vice to the U.S. ter­ri­to­ries of Guam and the North­ern Mar­i­anas as well as the Pa­cific is­land of Palau. All three is­lands are piv­otal in a re­gion where Chi­nese ex­pan­sion and ag­gres­sion is on the rise.

De­spite all this I con­tinue fly­ing Delta — last year I did over 175,000 miles — be­cause it’s the best ma­jor U.S. air­line. Detroit’s air­port would be bet­ter and Delta would be bet­ter if con­sumers had a real choice. Un­til then, con­sumers pay the price.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.