Delta Keeps Shrinking Cincinnati but Not Memphis

On April 14, 2008, Delta and Northwest announced their merger with the promise that they would “maintain all hubs at Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, Amsterdam and Tokyo-Narita.” I didn’t buy it, and I responded that it had to involve “cutting capacity out of the system. Where are the most likely candidates? I’m looking at you, Memphis and Cincinnati.” Now, over a year later, I thought it was time to take a look.

It appears that my predictions were half right. Cincinnati is shrinking rapidly (including a recent cut of 24 daily flights), but Memphis is actually holding strong. Who would’ve guessed? Let’s look at some graphs.

Number of Cincinnati Flights

Here you can see Cincinnati’s rapid decline. I looked at the number of daily departures on a random Wednesday during November for 2007, 2008, and 2009. During that time, the number of Delta/Northwest departures from the airport have been cut in half from 416 to 208. Mainline flights have dropped from 62 to 28, and now you’ll see mostly little 50 seaters buzzing around. Can it be much longer before the cuts continue? I think not.

Then we have Memphis. Check this one out.

Number of Memphis Flights

Memphis has held strong. There are now only 203 flights compared to 221, but that’s a much smaller decrease than what Cincinnati has seen and it’s in line with the general capacity cuts we’ve seen around the system. It has lost a lot of mainline – 78 to 42 departures – but that is still a fairly large percentage of the total operation. Most importantly, Memphis has not seen a loss in the number of destinations served, so it’s really just a frequency reduction. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has seen the number of destinations served drop from 116 to 77. See for yourself.

Memphis and Cincinnati Number of Destinations

So we see a mixed bag here, that’s for sure. Delta appears to be finding some level of success in Memphis while Cincinnati suffers from death by a thousand cuts.

[Updated 7/7 @ 1118a: Transposed Memphis departure numbers were fixed]

55 Responses to Delta Keeps Shrinking Cincinnati but Not Memphis

  1. DougOH says:

    Not counting weekend flights to the Carribean, looks like the summer schedule out of Memphis has 45 mainline flights, and 34 larger RJ’s with 1st class, daily. Many of the mainline flights are on old NW DC9′s – what is likely to eventually replace those?

  2. Memphis says:

    I would guess the CRJ-900 to replace the DC9′s. I’m not sure if the 900′s have first class or not but the capacity is similar to a DC9 though.

    Compass has a few EMB 175′s with first class going out of there this summer but rumor is they are moving out in September.

    What always cautioned me about the Delta/NW merger was how numerous Deltas regional airlines were. I mean, how many regional partners do you need?

  3. Just an update. Compass already pulled out of Memphis, on or about the first of June 2010. Compass was also purchased by Trans States Airlines. Pinnacle Airlines just bought Mesaba Airlines, around the first of July 2010. Pinnacle Airlines has stated they want to separate their fleet between propeller driven and jet driven, giving all the propeller driven aircraft to Mesaba. Pinnacle will be taking over the leases of Mesaba CRJ-900. Pinnacle is Memphis TN based, and Mesaba is Eagan MN based.

  4. Great blog post once again. I think it is a testament to how tumultuous the commercial aviation industry is and how quick it changes.

    Well, time to write a new blog post about Delta in MEM. I think CVG is looking a little better than MEM now with DHL coming back in and at least some one is in Mesabas’ old hanger doing mod lines. Sorry to hear about Comair though.

    The latest statistic I can up with surfing around the net with regards to Delta/NW is… In 2006 Northwest was running 225 flights through MEM. As of Jan 2013, that number is down to 94. Yes…. Ninety Four.

    Delta apparently wants to get rid of all the 50 seaters now, and has placed an order for 70-90 something CRJ 700-900. Don’t know the exact specifics. Pinnacle pilots ratified a contract and I read somewhere that after the signing 1/3 of them were going to get laid off.

    AND, pinnacle MX base in MEM is closing, I believe the hanger is closed as of now and flight line by April 2013 with all corporate offices moving to MSP.

    Southwest schedule is???

    I’d like to see you write up on a post about Memphis now…if it’s newsworthy ;-)

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