New York (AFP) - Delta Air Lines said Thursday it will cut back flights serving Britain this year in the wake of the country's vote to pull out of the European Union.
Delta said it plans to reduce capacity on service between the US and Britain by six percent this winter, citing the steep drop in the British pound and the rise in economic uncertainty after the vote.
Delta's cuts to its British routes, along with other moves, will trim total system capacity by about one percentage point in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Airlines have emerged as one of the most exposed sectors to the surprise Brexit vote.
The British breakup with the European Union could disrupt air service agreements within the continent and raise costs to travel between Britain and the EU. That could affect Delta or partner airlines in Europe, such as Air France and Alitalia, on trips between Britain and the continent.
British carriers such as EasyJet and British Airways owner IAG could lose their special rights under the EU's Single European Sky system, which guarantees airlines from member states access to the European market.
EasyJet said July 1 it had applied for a European Union licence to keep flying throughout the bloc even after Britain exits, becoming the first carrier to activate a contingency plan.
Delta meanwhile reported that second-quarter earnings rose 4.1 percent to $1.5 billion, while revenue dipped 2.4 percent to $10.4 billion.
"While the revenue environment remains challenging, with persistent headwinds from close-in domestic yields and geopolitical uncertainty, we remain focused on achieving our goal of positive unit revenues by year end," said Delta president Glen Hauenstein.
"We'll continue to move quickly and aggressively with all our commercial levers, including an incremental one point reduction in our December quarter capacity levels, to make sure we create the momentum we need to achieve this goal."
Delta shares rose 2.5 percent to $40.55 in mid-morning trade.