Sunday, June 14, 2009

Foreign recruitment to carry on despite Delta route cuts

The global reach of the world’s largest airline and busiest airport are recruiting tools Georgia economic development officials have used to woo international companies to the Peach State.

But three lauded links to Asia—with important ties for the state—will be suspended in September as Delta Air Lines Inc. slashes capacity to adjust to an economic landscape and fuel prices that have left the airline industry reeling.

Fifteen months after it launched Atlanta’s direct air link to China and a mere three months after it reiterated its commitment to the route, deteriorating economic conditions have forced Delta to suspend its Atlanta-Shanghai flights.

Also suspended come September is Delta’s non-stop service from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Seoul, South Korea, and Atlanta service to Mumbai, India.

Atlanta’s global reach will continue to be a selling point, said Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam Williams. And Atlanta’s ties to China, South Korea and India remain strong.

But Williams acknowledged economic development officials will have to adjust, and the loss of non-stop service will be a minor “handicap.”

“We’ve had a setback because of global economic conditions, and a little more of a setback with Delta’s challenges to be profitable,” Williams said, adding he expected the routes to return once the economic climate improves.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to promote trade with those emerging economies with or without air routes,” Williams said.

Direct air service has been a component of the chamber’s strategy to lure investment from emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China. Delta has been the state’s most valuable economic development partner. More here.

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