This was on Delta's Website:
NEW GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP WITH AIR FRANCE
ADVANCES DELTA'S LONG-TERM STRATEGY
The decision by Delta Air Lines and Air France, respectively the third
largest U.S. and European airlines, to pair up as primary Alliance
partners marks the first move toward forging the next great global,
multi-carrier network by the end of the year.
The move is simply a logical step when considering what today's airline
customers want -- indeed, need: the ability to fly from anywhere to
everywhere. Since no one airline can meet that demand, Delta and Air
France are forming this global alliance to meet customer needs.
Understanding the decision
The pairing of the two airlines creates the most attractive transatlantic
alliance in the airline business -- one that should quickly attract other
quality alliance partners from around the world because of the
substantial customer service benefits it will provide. The joint strategic
endeavor gives passengers expanded global access, better connections,
reduced travel time and expense, streamlined baggage handling and
check-in, coordinated frequent flier programs and joint lounge access.
For a U.S. carrier, establishing a strong partnership with a European
airline is the most critical element in forming an alliance. Of all
worldwide passenger traffic, 54 percent is in North America, Europe
and across the Atlantic between North America and Europe. The
transatlantic portion of a global alliance today represents about 85
percent of the value that a U.S. carrier gains.
By coupling Delta and Air France, two highly effective forces in the
industry are connected: the most profitable U.S. hub carrier with the
best North American route network, the best U.S. East Coast presence
and the best North Atlantic network -- and a top-tier, quality European
carrier whose primary hub is the best-positioned for traffic flow beyond
a gateway and boasts the most possibilities for hub capacity growth.
Furthermore, this arrangement with Air France represents a significant
leap toward Delta's goal, articulated by Delta's president and CEO Leo
F. Mullin, of becoming the leader among airline companies.
Extending its reach
As part of Delta's effort to increase and strengthen its route network,
the company entered the Latin American market in 1997. Because
Atlanta is less overcrowded than traditional Latin American gateways
such as Miami -- and also boasts more worldwide connections -- Delta
held an instant advantage over more established carriers. During the
next two to three years, Delta hopes to add Bogota, Colombia, and
Buenos Aires, Argentina, as well as destinations in Chile and Ecuador,
to an already healthy Latin American system.
The airline also recently purchased one of its regional commuter partner
airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines. ASA, now a wholly-owned
subsidiary, will provide smoother connections than ever before and
greater service consistency for Delta passengers over Atlanta, the
largest airline hub in the world.
However, the most recent move was the inauguration of a codeshare
agreement with China Southern Airlines in March. This deal enables
Delta to serve the Chinese market in advance of direct service the
company hopes to one day begin.
By linking to Air France's network of 174 destinations in 85 countries to
Delta's system, customers immediately will benefit from more travel
options. The opportunities don't end there.
The Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport, where Air France
operates its largest hub, is the best-positioned hub in Europe for
transatlantic passengers traveling beyond gateways, and the potential for
capacity growth is significantly greater than at other European hubs
such as Frankfurt and London-Heathrow. A new third and pending
fourth runway at CDG will enable Air France to handle a 50-percent
increase in slots. Additionally, a 50-percent increase in passengers
becomes possible thanks to the expansion of one terminal in May 1999
and the construction of another by 2003.
CDG therefore is an ideal European complement to Delta's three
Atlantic gateways in the United States: Atlanta, New York-Kennedy
Providing premier customer service
Delta doesn't consider distinctive customer service merely an option or
preference: The company fully realizes its reliance on customer
satisfaction for success.
Delta's vow to eclipse other carriers in the customer service arena --
and reclaim its historic service reputation -- already has produced
results. After poor rankings among major U.S. carriers in on-time
performance and baggage handling, Delta made a commitment to
drastically improve its numbers for the U.S. government's leading
customer service indicators. By mid-1998, the company reached its
goals. For fewest baggage mishandlings, best on-time performance and
fewest on-time complaints, Delta climbed to No. 1 among network
carriers. Today, those numbers remain consistently in the top tier.
Customers also encounter a modernized, more efficient Delta when
flying today. Last year's Cabin Refurbishment Program meant renewed
focus on extensive aircraft cabin cleaning and prompt cabin interior
repair, while some planes received altogether new interiors. Thanks to
similar efforts at airport terminals systemwide, ticketing areas and gate
and boarding areas also benefited from facelifts.
Innovations in gate and boarding technology, though mostly unseen to
customers, diminish delays at the counter and simplify processes for
agents -- allowing for more personalized attention to the customer. Delta
currently is installing the new improvements systemwide.
Despite all these notable successes, the most highly visible enhancement
in the past year at Delta is BusinessElite, the airline's intercontinental
premium product. With a 60-inch pitch and a 17-inch recline, the
BusinessElite seat offers more personal space than any competitor's
business class seat.
These changes haven't gone unnoticed. Air Transport World magazine,
in its February 1999 issue, named Delta Airline of the Year for 1998.
Air France, like its new alliance partner, has a renewed commitment to
excellence in customer service -- one that parallels actions taken at
Delta. The European carrier has defined 115 service standards based on
customers' principal expectations that denote the attitude, behavior,
product components and performance leveled expected of its staff. The
airline also is pursuing a plan to establish itself among Europe's most
Building a better airline within
Delta knows realizing its goals can truly materialize only when
operations run at a high performance level.
Since the start of 1999, the company has looked inward to determine
ways to create a less bureaucratic and more effective administrative
environment. So far, the results have been simpler processes, fewer
on-the-job injuries, faster work organization, and cost-cutting measures
-- all developed within individual employee groups.
Air France is taking measures of its own to meet lofty internal
standards. The European carrier has identified several cost-cutting
measures and is dedicating almost 75 percent of its investment program
for the next five years to the modernization and rationalization of its
Delta took similar measures in 1997 when the company developed a
20-year fleet acquisition plan with Boeing. Older aircraft, such as the
L-1011 and the B727, were scheduled for retirement from the fleet.
Non-standard B737-300 and MD-90 aircraft were set for removal, to
simplify the fleet with fewer aircraft and engine types. And Delta and
Boeing agreed that growth aircraft would be selected as economic and
market conditions permitted.
Others have taken notice of Delta's efforts at reinventing the way it
conducts business. Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine
named the airline "Best-Managed Major Airline" for 1999, an award
presented at this year's Paris Air Show.
Strengthening other relationships
The choice to proceed with the partnership had its challenges, because
both airlines have valuable agreements with other carriers.
However, Delta hopes its current Atlantic Excellence partners, Swissair,
Sabena and Austrian, will play important roles in the context of the new
Delta alliance with Air France. The alliance sets the stage for a direct
challenge to the partnerships of Star Alliance, oneworld and
KLM/Northwest. Delta values its relationship with its Atlantic
Excellence partners -- a relationship that has provided significant
Assessing the bottom line
For Delta and its employees, the alliance partnership with Air France
translates to a better competitive position and an expansion in
opportunities for the company around the globe. It's a key component of
Delta's long-term strategy and a step that brings the airline closer to
providing customers with a pleasant, hassle-free travel experience --
from anywhere to everywhere.
AIR FRANCE AND DELTA AIR LINES FORGE GLOBAL
ATLANTA, GA, June 22, 1999 --Today Air France and Delta Air
Lines have signed an exclusive long-term strategic agreement that lays
the foundations for a major global alliance, to be announced by the end
of the year.
This alliance will be set up with other airlines from among Air France's
and Delta Air Lines' existing partners and other carriers interested in
As Delta Chairman Leo F. Mullin stated, "The Air France-Delta alliance
is a victory for global airline customers and for the two carriers'
employees and shareholders. Our customers will benefit first from the
agreement as two of the world's premier airlines will be working
together to guarantee them new standards of excellence throughout the
In forming the global alliance, Air France and
Delta intend to work together in a number of
fields, with the objective of offering their
customers the best possible service and the same
standard of quality and consistency in both
airlines. They will do this by aligning their procedures and commercial
policies more closely. Cooperation will be extended to the cargo sector
so as to combine Delta's powerful US market with Air France's broad
experience in this field as the world's third-ranking cargo airline. The
two carriers will be developing their cooperation in all areas where
efficiencies can be achieved.
"This strong and lasting alliance with Delta, with whom we have worked
well for some time, is a very important step for Air France" declared Air
France Chairman, Jean-Cyril Spinetta. "Air France, a European major, is
joining forces with the largest US passenger carrier. The two airlines
will build on the network advantages provided by linking Atlanta, the
world's largest hub, with Paris-Charles de Gaulle, the European hub
offering the best potential for growth."
"Airline customers today must be able to travel or ship
cargo from anywhere in the world to everywhere
else, but no one airline can meet this demand alone,"
Delta's Mr. Mullin said. "The alliance we are in the
process of forming will be the means for world
airlines to accomplish together what no one of us is able to accomplish
"Delta and Air France together have begun the process of creating a
multi-carrier alliance that will offer both great service and an
unsurpassed route network providing access to the markets our
customers seek most," said Air France's Mr. Spinetta. "While our
carriers are the cornerstones in Europe and North America for the
worldwide alliance to come, we are already exploring opportunities with
other potential founding partners."
Operating a network of 174 destinations in 85 countries (excluding
codeshared flights) Air France is well established in Europe, Africa,
Middle East and Asia as well as in the Americas. It also has a
predominant position on the French market, Europe's largest domestic
Delta, with service to 230 cities in
29 countries, is the best
established airline in the eastern
half of the USA, where most of
the US-Europe traffic is
concentrated. This year Delta was elected "Airline of the Year" by Air
Transport World and "Best-Managed Major Airline" by Aviation
The alliance binding Air France and Delta Air Lines is based on the
clear legal framework of the French-US aviation agreement signed on 8
April 1998, which has boosted air services between France and the
United States. The new alliance will enable the two carriers to pursue
their growth policy on North Atlantic routes, the world's leading
international market and platform for any global alliance.
Just thought everyone would like to know.