Delta exits low demand routes from 11 airports

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has confirmed plans to halt service to 11 mid-sized US cities as part of efforts to lower costs and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Flights from the 11 airports, which make up approximately 5% of the domestic destinations Delta serves, will cease from July 8. The US Transportation Department (DOT), which has been attempting to preserve as much connectivity as possible, has approved the reduction.

All of the airports will continue to receive service from at least one other carrier after Delta suspends its operations.

“As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta continues to face an unprecedented impact to our business and suspending operations at these airports will reduce costs where customer demand is low,” Delta SVP of domestic airport operations Sandy Gordon said.

“We will move quickly to work with affected customers, whose patience we sincerely appreciate as we navigate this unprecedented time together."

Earlier this month, the DOT made its final decision on granting service exemptions to US airlines, allowing 15 domestic carriers to suspend service to 75 airports.

As well as approving Delta’s request, the government body granted American Airlines approval to halt flights to six airports and for United Airlines to cease flying to 11.

The 11 airports Delta will suspend flights to are:

  • Aspen (ASE), Colorado: According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, Delta intended to operate four routes from ASE this summer, connecting the ski resort town with Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) and Salt Lake City (SLC). The carrier offered 58,926 departure seats from ASE in 2019.
  • Bangor (BGR), Maine: Delta currently flies there from Detroit (DTW) and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic offered service to New York LaGuardia (LGA). It provided 60,314 departure seats last year.
  • Erie (ERI), Pennsylvania: Flights to DTW will end. A total of 49,300 seats were offered by Delta from ERI last year.
  • Flint (FNT), Michigan: The airline offered one route from FNT to its ATL hub, providing 108,335 available seats in 2019.
  • Fort Smith (FSM), Arkansas: As with Flint, Arkansas’ second-largest city will lose its Delta service to ATL. About 33,500 seats were offered from FSM by Delta last year.
  • Lincoln (LNK), Nebraska: Delta currently serves MSP daily and offered ATL flights before the coronavirus crisis. Annual capacity totaled 70,574 departure seats in 2019.
  • New Bern (EWN), North Carolina: American Airlines’ route to Charlotte will become EWN’s sole route once Delta suspends service to ATL. Delta provided 35,650 seats last year.
  • Peoria (PIA), Illinois: The city is seeing flights to ATL and MSP cut from its network. More than 66,000 seats were operated in 2019.
  • Santa Barbara (SBA), California: Flights will no longer be available to SLC. Delta provided 27,994 annual seats from SBA.
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AVP), Pennsylvania: Two routes are being lost, to ATL and DTW. In excess of 87,000 departure seats were offered by Delta from AVP in 2019.
  • Williston (XWA), North Dakota: Delta decision to cut flights to MSP from the North Dakota city leaves United as the airport’s only operator. The exit removes about 9,000 seats from the market annually.

Figures from OAG show that Delta offered more than 600,000 departure seats from the 11 airports combined in 2019 across 9,800 flights. This equates to 19% of all departure seats from the airports.

Meanwhile, Delta has formally applied for the DOT to authorize its codeshare deal with LATAM Airlines Group. The application covers all points between the US and Chile; between points in the US; between points in Chile; and beyond the US/Chile to any points.

“These new codeshare services will create substantial benefits for passengers traveling between the United States and Chile, and will enable Delta and LATAM Airlines to offer a more integrated experience for customers and market their services more effectively,” the application said.

Delta completed its acquisition of a 20% stake in Chile’s LATAM in late December, with codesharing since launching between Delta and LATAM’s affiliates in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In May, Delta and LATAM signed their long-planned joint venture agreement between North and South America.

The application to the DOT comes despite LATAM Airlines Group filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.