This announcement is just one step in a transformation that you can be sure will have many more facets.
It's transformative alright!
Things may look a bit painful Japan wise for DL but it's all part of a changing Asia dynamics. NW was at NRT for decades when Japan was also a more important economic player as compared to China.
DL attempting to throw money at JAL was the Hail Mary. It failed.
Now DL is in the huddle looking at their options. MU/PVG, KE/ICN.
Taking a step back and eliminating JFK-NRT (for the time being maybe) may have some shock value for some but it also serves as a warning/reminder to consumers that a super strong duopoly between the US and Japan (OneWorld and Star) has been in the works and the results are: less competition.
DL must be thinking: if you can't beat them (DOT), join them! Go for the consumer angle all day long.
So TYO sorta becomes the FRA and LHR in Skyteam's network. And PVG and ICN could duke it out for the AMS and CDG role. Problem is, we're not in the 90's anymore. NW and KL were pioneers in a successful JV, supported by their respective governments. Now DL is playing catch up and completely revising Asia strategies.
The US will have to negotiate better with China and get better agreements in favor of US carriers.
KE is what it is. Both sides will have to make concessions if something were to ever come of it. For a country the size of South Korea it's amazing it has two well known international carriers, one of which doesn't seem to have an issue having NH/HND/NRT in the same alliance with them.
Knowing KE may never play ball DL must be leveraging China in spite of lack of open skies.
I'm not concerned about MU's lacklusterness. NW was lackluster. Nothing to write home about. But I do see great potential. DL has options. They see potential in average terminals, average airlines. They're not afraid to put money where their mouth is. Long road though. Gonna be a little bumpy.
The loss of NRT's beyond-TYO connections may be what tips the scales for some.
That ship has sailed now.
Even the Beach markets are going to become more pointless for DL over time.
Stock performance and capacity control are key drivers for DL. Connecting a few more dots and key p2p where it makes sense is smart. Leaving other customers stranded is a price they're willing to pay.
In the end, merger mania was all about domestic consolidation and capacity stability and not about acquiring overseas territories.
AA has actually proven that! (growing Asia own metal organically)