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Delta Cuts LAX

The writing had likely been on the wall for sometime, but it looks like Delta’s experiment in building up LAX is coming to a rapid end. Last week, Delta and ExpressJet announced that their agreement (covering 23 regional jets) would end on September 1. Something tells me we won’t see anyone else come in to fill their place.

The press release had plenty of Delta Cuts LAX flyinghints at the ultimate plan for LA. Expressjet had been flying 13 aircraft under a prorate agreement (meaning they take all the financial risk), and I had fully expected those to disappear, but apparently the 10 other aircraft under the cost plus agreement will go as well.

Those 23 planes under the Delta brand had been flying mostly out of LAX and some out of Salt Lake. The release makes it clear that “Delta intends to award a portion of this flying, including all routes currently operated by ExpressJet at its Salt Lake City hub, to another Delta Connection carrier.” That doesn’t address how much of the LAX flying will be replaced, but I think it’s safe to say that the deafening silence says it all.

Many of the flights are already removed from the booking systems. Boise, Portland, and Reno, for example, are already out. Others show reduced flying still in effect, like a single daily Phoenix flight and some Bay Area flying, but most of those don’t have any seats for sale. If that’s the case this far in advance, that means they’re toast, but they just haven’t removed them completely yet. Of course, this also means the smaller Mexico markets like Leon and Torreon will disappear as well. The LA Times confirms that flights will drop from about 93 to near 60 by Labor Day.

It’s entirely possible that some of these will come back via another carrier, but that would really surprise me. This was just a failed experiment, and now it’s time to go back to where they were before. I’m sorry to see some of those Mexico markets go away, because I think they still might work one of these days. But they would have a better chance of working with someone like United or American with a larger local base here in the LA area as well as better connecting opportunities.

Now, I wonder what will happen to Delta’s physical presence in LA. This is a tough one. On one hand, they have a nice, functional terminal over in Terminal 5, but it will now go down to being severely underutilized once again. It would be nice to just bring Northwest over after the merger and fill out the terminal, right? Not so fast. Northwest has an equity stake in Terminal 2, and that’s a nice little asset that they might want to hold on to. Meanwhile, LAWA has to be excited at the prospect of opening up more gate space, but I’m not sure that there’s much they can do beyond working with Delta/Northwest to help them come to the right decision.

Wouldn’t it be nice for Delta to do the right thing here and make room for more airlines to come in? Yeah, right. I think we all know there’s slightly less than no chance of that ever happening. Maybe LAWA can find naked pictures of Delta’s CEO to help get them to move. It’ll be interesting to see how this gets resolved.

(Original LAX image from Flobrio)

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