Delta Skirts Trump Tariffs by Sending Airbus Jets on Tour

Delta Air Lines Inc. is side­step­ping mil­lions of dol­lars in U.S. tar­iffs on Euro­pean jet­lin­ers by ini­tial­ly rout­ing them far out­side the coun­try to such places as Ams­ter­dam, Tokyo and El Salvador.

The U.S. car­ri­er has tak­en deliv­ery of sev­en Euro­pean-built Air­bus SE planes since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s levies took effect in Octo­ber 2019. Rather than fly­ing them home as it had in the past, Delta has based the air­craft over­seas. The deci­sion, cou­pled with the def­i­n­i­tion of new planes in the tar­iff rules, has kept the jets from being con­sid­ered imports even though some of them reg­u­lar­ly enter the U.S.

Avoid­ing the tar­iffs has saved Delta, Airbus’s biggest U.S. air­line cus­tomer, pre­cious cash while cus­toms records show that rival car­ri­ers have been charged the duties. Every dol­lar counts for an indus­try strug­gling to cut costs amid a col­lapse in demand caused by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Like oth­er major U.S. car­ri­ers, Delta has received bil­lions of dol­lars in gov­ern­ment aid while park­ing planes, reduc­ing flights and trim­ming jobs as air­lines steel them­selves for a long slump.

“We have made the deci­sion not to import any new air­craft from Europe while these tar­iffs are in effect,” Delta said in a state­ment to Bloomberg News. “Instead, we have opt­ed to use the new air­craft exclu­sive­ly for inter­na­tion­al ser­vice, which does not require importation.”

Cir­cuitous Route
In the case of a new A321, Delta avoid­ed tar­iffs by not import­ing it to the U.S.

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