United Airlines wants to add service between Washington-Dulles and Cape Town, South Africa. The carrier proposes to fly the route thrice weekly, complementing its 3x weekly service from Newark.
United’s application creates a different sort of competition in the market. With only four remaining flight frequencies available to allocate the US Department of Transportation cannot authorize both airlines’ full requests.
United would alternate service days between Dulles and Newark, delivering six flights a week in the market. It believes that a compelling factor compared to Delta’s offer.
United goes so far as to note “Delta’s proposal offers unpredictability and lacks vision.” United specifically calls out Delta’s retirement of its 777-200LR fleet, “the aircraft in its fleet most suitable for South Africa operations,” as part of its reasoning for that claim.
But United is also willing to compromise given the contested slot situation.
Rather than allocating three slots to one of the two airlines (and leaving the last remaining slot idle), United proposes a 2-2 split:
in lieu of a full-blown carrier selection proceeding that would drain both the Department and the airlines’ time and resources—and only if Delta is also willing—United would be amenable to accepting an immediate allocation of two (2) weekly frequencies to both Delta and United. With this outcome, both carriers’ customers and communities win, as United and Delta would both be able to execute their Cape Town plans immediately and without the need to undergo a lengthy contested Department carrier selection proceeding.
This approach likely benefits United more than Delta given the alternate routing via Newark and flexibility offered in terms of crew staffing for the trips. Whether Delta is willing to accept the compromise remains to be seen.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.