Delta takes on competitors with $2 billion upgrade

US airline tries to create “a higher-end product that people are willing to pay for”

In an effort to re-brand itself as a high-end product, Delta Air Lines is pouring more than $2 billion by 2013 into upgrading its aircraft and airport facilities, despite the caution airlines are generally exercising due to high oil prices. It intends to improve plane seats, widen the range of inflight entertainment and give passenger services on the ground an upscale facelift. Its intention is that passengers will willingly pay more to get access to such plush facilities – if they have the budget to match. The aim is to stand out from competitor carriers.
“People pay more for Mercedes than they do for Hyundais,” explains Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president for network planning and revenue management. “What we’re trying to create is this higher-end product that people are willing to pay for.”
Starting in summer, long-haul Delta flights will carry the option of a new “economy comfort” area with more space for seats to recline and more legroom. These seats will come at a price tag of between $80 and $160 one-way. “Delta has an opportunity to compete for and win a lot of business from brand neutral or brand agnostic travellers,” says one travel industry analyst.