One of my favorite movies of the '80s is The Karate Kid. I like it mostly for the action and the often-cheesy movie wisdom it shells out frame after frame. Yet even the silliest movies occasionally offer a truism, and The Karate Kid is no different. My favorite is when Pat Morita's Mr. Miyagi, while reminding Ralph Macchio's Daniel of the seriousness of karate training, says: "You karate yes, OK. You karate no, OK. You karate, guess so -- (insert funny squishing sound here) -- squish like grape."
The truism is that a halfhearted commitment to something serious rarely works out, either in life or in business. Yesterday, Delta Air Lines
But give Delta credit for at least trying a bold plan when nothing else has worked. The airline has lost more than $5 billion since 2001. The new strategy, which includes cutting 7,000 jobs and effectively shutting down its unprofitable hub in Dallas, aims to cut at least that much out of Delta's operating costs annually.
The wrinkle is that while cutting costs Delta will also spend to differentiate itself from low-cost flyers such as Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick JetBlue Airways
Delta also said it would expand by one-third its pseudo-hip Song fleet, a low-fare carrier within a carrier that somewhat mirrors United's Ted and competes with JetBlue, Southwest, AirTran
Of course there are plenty of obstacles standing in Delta's way. The biggest may be its negotiations with pilots. Like troubledUS Airways
Delta's plan is the clearest evidence yet that all big airlines face what appears to be an intractable catch-22 -- to be a low-fare airline without appearing to be a low-fare airline. It's a dilemma that's bound to change the industry wholesale and, sadly, may leave a few squished carriers along the way.
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