Delta Air Lines this weekend marks its fifth anniversary of nonstop service between the United States and Africa, a historic milestone for the airline that today is a leading international carrier with a world-class global network.
Delta launched its first flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, via Dakar, Senegal, on Dec. 4, 2006. A week later, it began serving Accra, Ghana, from its hub at New York-JFK. It was the first major U.S. airline to operate nonstop service between the United States and Africa since Pan Am suspended flights in the 1980s.
In the years since those first historic flights, Delta's Africa service has continued to expand and today it is the leading U.S. carrier to Africa, with service to six African cities in five countries.
"Five years ago, Delta saw an opportunity in Africa to offer our customers access to a region that had long been overlooked by U.S. carriers," said Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president – Network Planning, Revenue Management and Marketing. "Today Africa has become a key part of our international network, and we're committed to continued long-term growth in the region."
On Dec. 1, Delta again expanded its African network to offer nonstop service between Accra, Ghana, and Abuja, Nigeria, in partnership with Air Nigeria(1). The service operates twice weekly using Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, equipped with 36 BusinessElite seats, 29 seats in Economy Comfort and 143 seats in Economy.
Some key milestones include:
Delta has grown from 22 weekly departures between the United States and Africa in December 2006 to 44 weekly departures in winter 2011.
Delta has transported more than 2.5 million passengers to and from Africa since December 2006.
Delta is the only airline to operate nonstop service from Accra to two cities in the United States – Atlanta and New York JFK.
Delta is the only airline to operate service to the United States from two cities in Nigeria – Lagos and Abuja.
Delta is the only airline to operate direct service to the United States from Liberia, via Accra.
Delta's current Africa service:
New York-JFK Dakar, Senegal
New York-JFK Accra, Ghana
New York-JFK Monrovia, Liberia via Accra
New York-JFK Abuja, Nigeria via Accra
Atlanta Lagos, Nigeria
Atlanta Johannesburg, South Africa
Atlanta Monrovia, Liberia via Accra
Atlanta Accra, Ghana
Accra, Ghana Monrovia, Liberia
Accra, Ghana Abuja, Nigeria
Other recent developments in Delta's Africa service include:
Delta increased its service between Accra and Monrovia to three times weekly in July 2011.
Effective June 1, 2011, Delta introduced a premium economy section – "Economy Comfort" – on all its intra-Africa services. The new seats feature up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta's standard international Economy class seats.
Delta is investing in ground services and recently upgraded its gate facilities at Accra airport, and renovated its gate facilities in Liberia.
In Lagos and Accra, Delta has launched a new Delta Protocol service which provides airport concierge service throughout both airports from check-in to boarding the aircraft for BusinessElite passengers
Delta will also be introducing the new full-flat bed seat in BusinessElite between New York-JFK and Accra and Abuja in mid-December, and between Atlanta and Accra and Monrovia in 2012. This aircraft will also provide passengers in economy class with individual on- demand entertainment systems
Delta is investing in new international terminals at its two U.S. gateways to Africa – New York-JFK and Atlanta. In Atlanta, the new Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal is scheduled to open in spring 2012. At JFK, Delta's expanded and enhanced Terminal 4 will open in 2013.
"Despite our success in Africa, we're not standing still," said Perry Cantarutti, Delta's senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "We continue to look for new opportunities to serve this fast-growing market, and I expect Africa to be an exciting part of Delta's long-term growth."
Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year, and was named by Fortune magazine as the most admired airline worldwide in its 2011 World's Most Admired Companies airline industry list. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 335 destinations in 59 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline's service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, a world-class airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Delta is investing more than $2 billion through 2013 in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at delta.com.
(1) Service will be marketed and sold by Air Nigeria pursuant to a codeshare agreement with Delta. At this time, Delta cannot sell local traffic between Accra and Abuja.