Like a vulture circling over the ailing corporate body of Braniff International, Delta Air Lines has beefed up its service in the last few months out of Dallas/Fort Worth.
In doing so, the most profitable major U.S. air carrier has placed itself in an enviable position. Delta’s expansion would make it easy for the Atlanta-based airline to pick up passengers should debt-plagued Braniff shut down or further cut back service.
Delta has recently announced nonstop service to Chicago, Cincinnati, Tulsa, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Columbia, S.C., and it has expanded service to New York. The Chicago, New York, and Tulsa routes are foundations of the Braniff network.
Delta has increased its D/FW departures by 40 per cent in the last year, moving the airport from fourth to second in the Delta system. Its more than 85 daily departures from D/FW make it the third busiest airline in Dallas, after American and Braniff.
Because of Delta’s growth at D/FW and its healthy economic posture (the airline reported a 28 per cent growth in earnings during the first quarter of 1981), speculation has swirled throughout the airline industry that Delta is benefitting from Braniff’s troubles.
Delta officials deny they are motivated by Braniff’s situation. “It would be awfully difficult for any airline to provide replacement service at D/FW airport should any major carrier cease operation,” says Lawrence Carland, Delta’s Dallas district director. “It would be an undesirable situation which could not be remedied all at once.”