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Asia traffic down 25% – Delta

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami has caused the number of passengers travelling with Delta through Asia to decline significantly, said a senior figure at the airline.

Edward Bastien, Delta Air Lines’ president, put the drop in traffic through Asia at 25%, and said Delta had previously seen $2 billion of revenue from Japan.

The US airline has suspended flights to Tokyo’s Haneda airport until at least June, he said.

Speaking at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives’ (ACTE) 2011 Global Education Conference in New York, Bastien praised his Japan-based colleagues’ resilience.

With 1500 employees in Japan, the Delta president said the airline was well placed for when Japan recovers from the disaster.

“It will bounce back faster than people anticipate,” he said. “They will overcome this and we will be well-positioned as an airline and an industry to help them.”

At the event, Bastien also spoke about how the rising cost of oil would be likely to affect future capacity.

He said he expects a number of airlines to start to follow an aggressive strategy to cut cuts, in particular by restricting capacity from the late summer and early autumn of 2011.

Transatlantic flights would be most likely to see significant cuts, Bastien predicted.

“The price of oil is the biggest cost we manage,” he said, adding that the airline would need to cover $3 billion of extra fuel costs this year.

Delta’s merger with Northwest has provided more stability, however, to help overcome such difficulties.

“One plus one equals three,” he said, as building on the strengths of each airline has created more opportunities.

Delta will make a profit this year, Bastien predicted.

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