The as-yet-unnamed airline will focus initially on the Northeast-to-Florida corridor, flying sun seekers from Boston and New York southward to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. This is where JetBlue has seen success, and Delta hopes to not only step on its toes, but to trample on it. The latter will roll out the service to other areas later in the year.
Delta -- which will mimic the discount airlines' prices, with most fares between $79 and $299 one way -- hopes to make up for it by keeping its costs low and its operations efficient. It's also banking on the high demand for cheap flights.
Using 36 reconfigured 757s, each plane will boast 199 all-coach seats. According to the airline, it will be 20% cheaper to run these jets than the normal cost for 757s. Also, there will be fewer flight attendants onboard to bring you minuscule bags of off-brand pretzels, so stock up beforehand.
Delta also hopes to save money by convincing customers to buy their tickets through a dedicated website. It aims eventually to have 70% of tickets for the airline-within-an-airline purchased online. Flyers will also be able to call a voice-activated reservation service to order tickets directly.
But, wait. Didn't Delta already sort of try this before? Well, yes, there's Delta Express, the "low-fare" carrier it launched in 1996. Say goodbye to it, as the new venture will replace the soon-to-be discontinued carrier.
The airline said it needs a "more powerful Delta response" for those rascally upstarts. Perhaps the new one could be named "Delta Really Really (We Mean It This Time) Express."
Will it work? Will Delta be able to beat JetBlue, AirTran, or Southwest at their own game? We'll all have to wait and see. But from where we sit, it looks like fourth and long, from mid-field, in the last quarter, with a second left on the clock.