MLT Vacations will operate United Vacations for just one more year, MLT and its parent company, Delta Air Lines, said on Thursday.
“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),” Terry Williams, MLT's vice president of sales, wrote in an email to agents.
“United fully understands this direction,” she added.
United and MLT Vacations made the agreement together, United emailed in a statement to Travel Weekly.
“Customers can continue to book United Vacations as the airline transitions to a new marketing partner, which United will announce at a future date,” United said.
MLT said the transition period could take up to a year or more.
The move comes as Delta has taken steps to integrate MLT into the Delta corporate structure. Last year, Delta announced that it would shift most of MLT’s operations team and employees from the company's headquarters in Edina, Minn., to Delta’s base in Atlanta.
John Caldwell, formerly Delta’s managing director of national account sales and specialty sales, came on as president of MLT last year, replacing longtime MLT executives Larry Chestler and Ken Pomerantz.
Asked if it had been the plan all along to eventually phase out United Vacations, Caldwell said, “No, not at all.”
“They’ve been a great contributor to our success and a great partner, and as we were moving our business down here to Atlanta, we took a close look at our business and made a strategic decision, which they understand.”
MLT took over management of United Vacations on Jan. 1, 2011. Prior to that, United Vacations had been operated by Milwaukee-based Mark Travel Corp. for the previous 20 years.
Williams wrote that MLT would work closely with United Airlines in the coming months “to ensure a smooth transition of the United Vacations brand, at United Airlines' direction.”
Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.