Delta Airlines Updates

Delta Airlines is planning new aircraft to serve North Dakota which will have 70 and 76 seats, instead of 50, which  most of the aircraft now serving the state have.  The 747s are being retired.


The increase in seats per airplane does not necessarily mean a net gain in the total number of seats, because the number of flights may decline, a Delta representative said.  A slight increase in lift from North Dakota may occur.


Recently I was the only travel company owner from North Dakota to attend a travel industry update session in St. Paul.  We heard about a fascinating airline subject that we don’t usually learn about:  Delta Technical Operations.  Doing a fine job of sharing this information was Lee Cossett, Vice President of Line Maintenance, Delta Technical Operations.


Delta has 4,000 employees in operations.  They handle the maintenance for 18 aircraft types.  They have more than 1100 planes to support.  The average age of the Delta fleet is 16.9 years.


These planes fly to 326 destinations in 59 countries on 6 continents.


Delta’s Technical Operations also supports the operations of 150 other airlines.


We were told that the age of aircraft is measured in three ways:  by the calendar, the number of operating hours, and the cycles.  A cycle is 1 going up, and 1 going down.  For example, a flight taking off in Fargo and landing in Minneapolis would be one cycle.


Every 18 months each aircraft has a thorough review.  Delta Technical Operations interacts with airline manufacturers on a regular basis.


Delta has 57 maintenance stations around the world, of which 32 are in the United States.


I understood Mr. Cossett to say that the tires for each aircraft are changed every 30 days.


The Operations Team works hard to keep everything going.  In 2014, Delta had 95 consecutive days with no cancellations.


Delta operates 3,000 flights a day and serves 170 million travelers  per year.


Nine-seven per cent of planes operate without maintenance problems. The Tech Team thoroughly analyzes the three per cent that experience problems.


The tech team interacts with the aircraft through computers.


We also heard from Delta’s Vice President for Airport Customer Service at Minneapolis, the very enthusiastic Andy Zarras.  He talked about “The Art of Running an Airport.”  He discussed 20 goals he has for operating Delta’s Twin Cities operation successfully, and I’ll mention a just few of them.


In order to continuously improve, a number of operations are measured beginning with the time it takes the bags from an arriving aircraft to go to the baggage claims area.


They measure the line wait time through security.


They measure the time from when the brakes on the aircraft are set upon arrival, to the time the door opens.  Zarras said it should not be longer than 3 minutes.


Zarras said Delta rewards its airport staff for doing well. He stated his frequently stated mantra:  “You never stand as tall as when you stoop to help another.”


He wants to know if Delta agents smile and use the travelers’ names.  I must report that this has happened to me much more often recently in the Minneapolis airport.


Minneapolis is currently the top  Delta performance hub in the nation.


Anything that makes flying more pleasant, relaxing, convenient and safe is appreciated, whether in the air or in a terminal. I was impressed to see the work Delta is doing to achieve these goals.

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