On the heels of Thursday’s announcement that MLT Vacations and its parent company, Delta Air Lines, had agreed with United Airlines to discontinue MLT's marketing partnership with United Airlines and its United Vacations brand, Travel Agent chatted with MLT Vacations President, John F. Caldwell, about the impact this move will have on MLT's air access to Hawaii.
It should be noted, however, that Delta's volume to Hawaii will remain as is. In fact, flights to Hawaii offered by Delta may increase in the future.
“Obviously, United has a great network to Hawaii,” says Caldwell. “Volume to Hawaii, for the long term, will change a bit and our footprint will change a bit. But this isn’t going to happen right away. We already have up to a 12-month wind down. This year, we will be every busy supporting both brands. Some of that volume (in Hawaii) will definitely go away, but Delta and the Sky Team partners are planning on growing their brand aggressively and making up for some of that volume (that will be lost after the United split becomes official).”
Caldwell didn't have the exact numbers on just how many flights would be lost to Hawaii, but says, “It will be large. Let’s just put it that way.”
“MLT Vacations continues to move its operation Atlanta to work more closely with Delta and Delta’s partnerships, including Virgin Atlantic,” Caldwell told Travel Agent. “It became apparent, as we looked at that strategy to build the Delta Vacation brand, that we needed to re-think our strategy with United.”
In a letter sent out to MLT Vacations' travel agent partners Thursday, Terry Williams, vice president at MLT Vacations, said that the change will not be effective immediately and may, in fact, take up to a year to be finalized.
"The decision to discontinue the MLT/United Airlines partnership allows MLT to pursue a long term business strategy that focuses our efforts on developing the Delta Vacations brand, and exploring opportunities with Delta Air Lines' strategic and SkyTeam partners (as we did with Air France, Alitalia, and Aeromexico)," Williams said in the release. "In the coming months, we will work closely with United Airlines to ensure a smooth transition of the United Vacations brand, at United Airlines' direction. Our aim is to provide you and your customers with a seamless transition."