Delta Adds New Domestic US Air Links

US major Delta Air Lines is to introduce two additional domestic routes from Los Angeles International Airport this summer with the resumption of flights to Seattle and the inauguration of a link to Nashville from April 2013.  The carrier will also add regular flights to between Raleigh Durham and Tampa as it continues to tweak its domestic flying.

Delta Air Lines is the second largest domestic carrier in the US with a 13.6 per cent share of seat capacity this month (January 2013).  However, when you include all the regional partners and contract flying for each of the US majors the airline moves to the number one spot with a 20.4 per cent share of the total seat capacity.

The latest network growth from Delta will see the further expansion of its domestic operations from Los Angeles International Airport.  The carrier will resume flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from April 8, 2013 with a three times daily offering using a two-class, 76-seat Bombardier CRJ900 of regional Delta Connection partner SkyWest Airlines. 

The US major has offered regular service the Los Angeles – Seattle route on three former occasions since the start of the 1980s.  It introduced a daily link in April 1982 using a mix of Boeing 727s and Lockheed L1011 TriStars but closed the route in December 1982.  Delta returned to the market just under five years later in April 1987 with the launch of an up to six times daily operation using a mix of 727, 737, 757, 767 and TriStar equipment.  By 1993 frequencies had been halved and just two years later capacity had been further cut to just one, two or three daily rotations depending upon season, a pre-cursor to its closure in January 1998.

Delta’s most recent operation on the route was between June 2007 and September 2008.  This time up to three daily flights were offered using a mix of mainline 737-800 equipment and smaller Embraer ERJ-145s of regional partners ExpressJet Airlines.  In its last 12 months of operation Delta had just a 2.2 per cent share of the O&D demand on the route (12 months until September 2008) in what is a highly competitive market.

There are currently around 14 flights per day between Los Angeles International and Seattle-Tacoma International offering over 1,800 seats in each direction.  Alaska Airlines is the dominant carrier in this market with a 69.3 per cent share of available seats this month, while Virgin America and Delta’s partner SkyWest Airlines already serve the route, the latter also flying for United Airlines.  In 2011, an estimated 1.05 million O&D passengers flew between the two cities.

Alongside the point-to-point demand, the Seattle link will benefit from connection opportunities to a comprehensive trans-Pacific network as Delta rapidly grows in Seattle and develops it as its key Asian gateway.  The carrier currently offers international service to Beijing and Osaka, Japan and received approval for new service to Shanghai for summer 2013.  Delta also has an extensive codeshare agreement with Alaska Airlines in Seattle, providing customers access to more than 50 domestic markets.  

In a further expansion from Los Angeles, Delta is to also introduce a daily flight to Nashville from April 8, 2013, using a 737-800.  This will place the carrier in direct competition with American Airlines and low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines both of which offer up to twice daily services.  In 2011, an estimated 233,000 O&D passengers flew on this route

Delta is also expanding away from its major hubs as the resumption of a route between Raleigh-Durham International and Tampa International illustrates.  The daily Bombardier CRJ200 operation from March 2, 2013 will ‘join the dots’ between two of its existing destinations.  The carrier previously flew the route, currently served by Southwest Airlines, between January 2005 and January 2008 and then again from November 2010 until April 2012.  An estimated 186,000 O&D passengers flew on the route in 2011.

Delta and its Delta Connection partners offer services to nearly 318 destinations in 59 countries on six continents.  In US domestic skies the Delta brand has grown with annual seat capacity increasing by 2.1 per cent since 2010.  In the table below we highlight the carrier’s largest network points since 2010 and how its focus has altered over the past few years. 

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains its clear largest domestic point.  However, there are notable capacity shifts at other top ten domestic destinations with notable growth at Los Angeles and New York LaGuardia but declines at Cincinnati, Memphis and Salt Lake City.  Los Angeles International Airport now accounts for a 2.7 share of Delta’s domestic capacity up from 2.2 per cent in 2010 with year-on-year growth of 14.6 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 4.1 per cent in the past three years.

SCHEDULED DOMESTIC AIR SERVICE OF DELTA AIR LINES (non-stop departures)

Rank

Airport

Available Seats (2013)

Marketshare (2013)

Marketshare (2012)

Marketshare (2011)

Marketshare (2010)

1

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International (ATL)

39,677,589

22.2 %

22.1 %

21.0 %

21.2 %

2

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW)

14,193,448

7.9 %

7.8 %

8.0 %

7.8 %

3

Minneapolis St Paul International (MSP)

14,147,210

7.9 %

7.9 %

8.0 %

7.8 %

4

Salt Lake City International (SLC)

8,280,075

4.6 %

4.6 %

4.7 %

5.1 %

5

New York La Guardia (LGA)

7,796,537

4.4 %

3.9 %

3.1 %

3.0 %

6

Los Angeles International (LAX)

4,770,342

2.7 %

2.6 %

2.5 %

2.2 %

7

New York John F Kennedy International (JFK)

4,725,071

2.6 %

2.7 %

2.7 %

2.6 %

8

Orlando International (MCO)

3,071,733

1.7 %

1.8 %

1.8 %

1.7 %

9

Cincinnati Northern Kentucky (CVG)

2,772,238

1.6 %

1.6 %

2.0 %

2.4 %

10

Memphis International (MEM)

2,470,844

1.4 %

2.0 %

2.7 %

2.9 %

NETWORK TOTAL

178,820,362

175,684,092

179,475,994

175,195,127

178,820,362