Atlanta based Delta Air Lines has decided to stop its daily summer flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and the Costa del Sol gateway of Malaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP).
Delta had been flying from the “Big Apple” on and off during the summer for the past 11 years, over which time they have transported more than 300,000 passengers between the two airports.
On the route, which happens to be the only transatlantic flight between the United States and Malaga, Delta operated a Boeing 757-200 with 16 flatbed seats in business class and 152 seats in economy class.
The JFK-AGP route did not generate enough business revenue
Despite having an 85% load rate on the summer flights, the Costa del Sol is not a business destination to which Delta can sell its high-yielding seats. In spite of being the fourth busiest airport in Spain, with 19 million annual passengers, Malaga has had a hard time attracting interest from the American carriers.
Most of the people who flock to the Costa del Sol are northern Europeans in search of guaranteed sunshine and a traditional Mediterranean beach vacation. American’s coming to Europe, for the most part, are looking for history, culture and the museums that are found in places like Barcelona and Madrid.
With Florida and the Caribbean so convenient, why fly over the Atlantic just so that you can lie on a beach when you have the tropics closer to home?
When Delta announced that they would not be flying to Malaga next summer, local politicians and tourist chiefs could not believe it!
After having just returned from the 2019 World Travel Market in London full of optimism for 2020, they were expecting Delta to announce a year-round service, not that they were dropping the route.
Malaga mayor Francisco de la Torre blamed Malaga Airport operator Aena for not doing more to convince Delta to keep flying to Malaga.
The director of Marbella Club hotel Juan Carlos Luna said that he was surprised by the move, as his property alone had seen a 20% year on year increase in visitors from the United States.
Local officials did not do enough to promote the flight
If you look at it from a purely business point of view, which I am sure Delta did, you would see that you would be better off putting the 757-200 on a more heavily traveled route.
Before Delta’s announcement, it was quite feasible to fly over to Southern Spain for a long weekend. Now, with no direct flight, it means a minimum of a two to three-hour layover in a large European city.
In losing the route, it seems perhaps the destination was not as well sold to the US as perhaps it could have been. Even Americans who are not perhaps familiar with European resorts have all heard about the million-dollar villas and mega yachts in and around Marbella and Puerto Banus.
World-class golf courses are everywhere you look, and when it comes to culture, Malaga has a history dating back to the Phoenicians. The city also has a restored Roman Amphitheatre, Moorish Palace and an imposing castle built by the Catholic Monarchs.
A short drive away from Malaga you have the UNESCO World Heritage, Alhambra Palace and one of the few places in the world where it is possible to ski in the morning and be on the beach for lunch.
Having flown back and forth several times between the United States and Barcelona, I could not help but notice that most of the passengers were heading to Barcelona to meet up with a cruise ship.
Malaga meanwhile, has one of the trendiest cruise terminals in the world called the “Muelle Uno” that American’s would just love.
If the city, airport, cruise lines, and airlines all got together there would be no problem filling flights from not just New York but other American cities as well.
My prediction is that in the next couple of years we will see flights from North America return to Malaga, but it will be using more fuel-efficient aircraft like the Airbus A321LR.
What do you think of my prediction? Let me know in the comments.