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How Delta Transformed Vision into Reality in Paris and Seattle

Delta intends to bring Paris closer to Amsterdam's service level in terms of trans-Atlantic daily joint venture departures. Currently, Amsterdam has about 20, while Paris will have 12.

"We've had a lot of growth in Amsterdam," Cortelyou said. "We're now focused on Paris, which is the second largest trans-Atlantic market," after London. "It's the natural evolution of what we've been doing the past few years. Amsterdam was always incredibly important (to Northwest) and now we're bringing that emphasis to Paris also."

Seattle was a Northwest gateway to Asia before the merger, and Delta is now expanding there.

The plan is to add non-stop flights from Seattle to Shanghai and Tokyo Haneda Airport, assuming regulators approve; upgauge Tokyo Narita service to a Boeing 747-400 with 376 seats and provide lie-flat seats on key international flights. Additionally, Delta will expand its code-share relationship with Alaska (ALK - Get Report), which serves about 70 destinations from its Seattle hub. Delta already serves Amsterdam, Paris, Beijing, Osaka and Tokyo Narita from Seattle. By summer it will offer about 40 daily Seattle departures to 15 destinations, including five daily flights to New York Kennedy.

An advantage in Seattle, Cortelyou said, is that because it is closer to Asia than Los Angeles and San Francisco, Delta can use a wider variety of aircraft to make the flight, rather than depending on 747s and 777s; it would, for instance, fly a 767-300 to Shanghai and Haneda. Also, it can complete a round-trip to Japan with a single aircraft.

"Look at the Delta network," Cortelyou said. "We now have a major presence in the four corners of the country. Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world; we always had that pretty well anchored. We are focused on New York and are now becoming by far the busiest carrier there. We are focused on what we can do in Los Angeles, increasing our footprint there. And capping that is Seattle.

"It's a fundamental structural network piece for us, one of the prime gateways," he said. "Look at those four corners. You can serve almost any place in the world, and you have strong domestic hubs to feed that."

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