Winners and Losers in Delta’s Big Expansion at New York’s La Guardia Airport

The details are out. Now that the feds have finally paved the way for the Delta/US Airways slot swap (at least this part of it), Delta can finally roll out its plans to dominate New York. This is far from just replacing US Airways on existing flights but is rather a much broader shift.

There’s great news for people in bigger cities, primarily other hubs. Delta will be providing some competition there that didn’t exist before. But that growth means someone else loses, and it’s primarily smaller cities. This isn’t really a surprise, but it’s going to make people pretty unhappy that need those routes. Ultimately, these can be divided into four different categories. Let’s go through each of them.

Big Cities, Big Winners
What Delta is really trying to do here is offer frequent nonstop service in top business markets. That’s good for travelers but not for other airlines. The biggest likely loser? Happy Statue of Liberty American.

Of these 14 cities, American serves five of them nonstop, so it won’t be happy. As if that’s not bad enough, Delta’s new flights to Halifax will certainly pull from JFK, where American operates the only nonstop flights to Halifax today. For two cities, Nassau and Halifax, this will be the only nonstop flights in the markets, so they’re just going to be happy in general.

You’ll notice that Halifax, Montreal, and Ottawa all are getting service but Toronto is not. Seems strange, right . . . oh wait not so much. Remember, some of those divested slots went to WestJet, and the expectation is that most if not all will fly to Toronto. Oh, and did I mention that Delta and WestJet are planning to codeshare? Not so much of a divestment, eh? Here’s the list of winners.

Delta LGA Winners

 

A Little Bit of Growth
Those markets above aren’t the only winners. Others will actually see some growth or at least stay the same. These Indifferent Statue of Libertyfall into a couple different categories.

Most of them are markets that are already served by Delta today but aren’t served by US Airways. In these, Delta is adding an additional flight, so it’s all good news for this group.

There are two that don’t fall into that category. Washington/Dulles will see its 4 daily US Airways flights replaced with 4 new flights from Delta. That might seem like a wash, but US Airways loyalists could always fly United before and can continue to do so and still earn miles. Delta brings convenience to its loyalists, so it provides better utility. Also, some will be happy to see jets replacing turboprops, but that doesn’t matter to me.

The last one is a special case. The 4 daily US Airways flights to Syracuse will be replaced by 5 from Delta. Not bad, but why is this happening? Delta has been particularly careful to court the New York politicians in this process. That relationship has helped open plenty of doors, so those upstate New York markets will be taken care of quite nicely. Here’s the list:

Mild LGA Winners

 

Just a Haircut
Now it’s time to start talking about the losers, but let’s ease into it by talking about those Indifferent Statue of Libertywith pretty mild losses to start.

In this group there are really two types of cities. The first group loses the least. These are cities that have US Airways service today but no Delta service. The US Airways flights will disappear and Delta will step in, just with fewer frequencies. These cities get “upgraded” to jets, and they’ll have at least two flights a day. So, there is a loss in terms of the number of flights but it’s pretty minor.

The other group will be less happy. These are cities that had both US Airways and Delta service before, but they’ll now be losing US Airways completely. In return, these cities will get more flights from Delta, but not enough to replace what was lost by US Airways. It also means there’s one less competitor in the market. Here’s the full list:

La Guardia Mild Losers

 

Little Cities, Big Losers
It’s time to talk about the bad news. Indifferent Statue of LibertyThere are some cities that are just getting wrecked here. In general, the plan is this. These cities have service from US Airways today and that’s all going away. Delta’s either not coming to these cities or it’s adding a single, measly flight.

Basically, it sucks if you need to go between these cities and New York because your options are greatly reduced. There is one in this list that’s not like the others. That is Baltimore. Delta has declined to go into that market, and I know why. Southwest is the only other airline in the market. So people who need to fly between New York and Baltimore still have an option, but Southwest only has 3 flights in there. US Airways has 7 flights that are going away, so this market is taking a big hit. It’s just not as bad as those markets that lose absolutely everything. Here’s the list:

La Guardia Losers

 

As you can see, there are some winners and some losers here. In general, the little cities are the odd men out, but many smaller cities do retain at least some service. It’s completely clear why Delta is doing this. It wants to make its slots at La Guardia as useful as possible, and that means serving larger markets. Delta is also upping its game at JFK (I wasn’t able to get the full details on that one yet), which will really make it so that Delta can adequately get anyone in New York to just about anywhere they need to go.

As I said above, this hurts American the most. American now becomes an even more distant third place in New York, and that’s even if you count JetBlue as its partner. For Delta, this is a smart way to use the slots. Of course, I say that as someone who doesn’t have to travel to Ithaca or Providence.

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61 Comments on "Winners and Losers in Delta’s Big Expansion at New York’s La Guardia Airport"

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dan
Member

As bummed as I am that my beloved Providence is losing LaGuardia service, I do understand Delta’s move here. Plus, I’d say that Providence (and Baltimore) are in better shape here than the other cities losing service as both have plenty of Amtrak service. On one of my my last trips to NYC I picked Acela over flying, and I was quite pleased.

Ron
Guest

Bonanza!

Carl
Member
DL’s use of the slots seems very intelligent to me. Virtually all the cities that are not getting any service are ones where it makes little sense to fly to LGA, so they likely have little O/D air traffic other than non-revs. Train and car are time-competitive (or superior) to ALB, BWI, PVD, BDL, MDT. Perhaps US figured it was worth serving them for connecting traffic at LGA (or to serve their non-revs) but DL probably figures short-haul connections don’t make economic sense, and longer-haul traffic can be routed via ATL or DTW – most of these cities are served… Read more »
Kilroy
Guest
Brett, might way to check your dates on that first table or two. Excel auto-formats dates to the current year, and I don’t think Delta has developed the technology to delay its planes long enough to go back to the future. Of the smaller markets losing service, Ithaca, Harrisburg, and Hartford markets are all within a +/- 200 mile drive from LGA, so no real loss there for O&D, just fewer opportunities for those markets to connect in NYC. The Philly flights surprise me (fly instead of driving 100 miles, even with traffic? Really?), but there must be a market… Read more »
David
Guest

There’s a reason why Cornell University (in Ithaca) runs it’s own bus service to NYC.

enplaned
Guest

And it’s a great bus service at that — first class seating, snacks, drinks and, most importantly, wifi. About 4 to 4 1/2 hours door to door.

http://transportation.fs.cornell.edu/coach/

Kilroy
Guest

Looks nice, but at $165 RT it is not cheap. I imagine that there must be some other services similar to Bolt bus etc from schools/college towns in surrounding states that go to NYC. I know that there are those kinds of services to connect, say, UWisconsin and probably UMinn to Chicago.

Wayne Rutman
Guest
Thanks for the update. I must say LGA confuses me. Intuitively, scheduling LGA should be pretty easy. The airport is most convenient to the high yielding Manhattan traffic, but isn’t going to be a great airport for connecting traffic (not enough slots, perimeter rule, and you don’t have much int’l travel). So you want to schedule markets where there’s solid origin/destination demand — and where you can extract a higher-than-average yield from the travellers. So business markets should work really well. And, preferably, you’d schedule flights where there isn’t any competition into LGA so you don’t have to worry about… Read more »
Andrew
Guest

I agree that I don’t fully understand why LGA wasn’t more profitable for US.

FRANK
Guest

LGA is full of LCC’s now.

I bet this slot swap is mostly to pressure AA into a merger with US. As the last paragraph says it all, it places AA third in New York.

jabelson
Member

Actually, a combined AA-US would have made much more sense BEFORE the slot swap. US has become an also-ran at LGA and brings only marginal improvement to AA at LGA. Prior to the slot-swap, the huge number of slots that US was basically “holding” but not using would have been most useful to AA

Scott
Member

What makes you think the Loonie is overvalued? Canada still has top bond ratings around the world, and is the US’s largest oil supplier.

As for YHZ, it makes sense for cnx traffic to anywhere on the east coast; for midwest, you’d change in YYZ; for transatlantic, it already has LHR

XJT DX
Guest

Considering Newark (EWR) as part of the NY market, United/Continental takes the biggest hit, serving every city on the list (including YHZ 3-4 daily)… the upside for them is that they also serve the small-market cities that are seeing service cuts, meaning less competition for them as well.

Rohit Rao
Guest

The loss of PVD flights isn’t too bad either. When I lived in PVD, I would always take Amtrak to NYC over flying. Considering it gets you there in 1/2 the costs, roughly the same time, and that the train passes right by the airport (there even was a plan to have an amtrak stop at the airport, but now you have to connect at Providence Station to a commuter train). PVD-LGA was almost entirely O&D anyway, any connections US routed through PHL.

Don
Guest

If Delta can make it work; that will be good. But if not; the train is always a favorable option (EXCEPT LAST WEEK WHEN THE ENGINE FROZE!)

Kilroy
Guest

I love taking Amtrak on the East Coast, nice to have leg room and power outlets, but the few times I’m taken it the train has not been reliable. I’m convinced that their timetable is a work of fiction by an up-and-coming novelist.

JohnBom
Guest

CAE has an LGA flight on Delta that runs 6 days a week. How do you start from zero on that one?

Also, you spelled Philadelphia (maybe abbreviated it?) wrong in the first graphic.

JohnBom
Guest

I see the error of my ways on CAE. Sorry.

David SF eastbay
Member

I think I saw were DL was going to add SFO/LAX – JFK flts but that’s all I remember about JFK. So out west LGA isn’t really an issue to us. Doesn’t look like DL was adding a Saturday only nonstop to LGA from LAX/SFO (ATA used to have SFO-LGA SAT nonstop) it doesn’t matter at all what goes on in LGA to most people here.

Jim
Guest

Because of the perimeter rule they can’t do that.

David SF eastbay
Member

LGA has an exception for Saturday flights only outside the perimeter

Jim
Guest

True, but if they are going for business traffic then Saturday-only flights are not very useful.

b757capt
Guest

It will be interesting to see the US/DCA schedule. Lots of the rumors on the web seem to be telling folks not to anticipate a large release like DL has done with LGA. It will be a shame if US decides not to put out a mass increase with the publicity that DL has gotten over LGA.

Bill from DC
Guest
i am also looking forward to that. in fairness, however, DL will get more splash from their announcement regardless of what US does at DCA (unless its something really kooky) because DL received roughly 3x the amount of slot pairs at LGA than US will receive at DCA. i am also interested in hearing how gates will be reassigned at DCA since legacy CO is still stuck on the island next to DL. perhaps US swaps its gates in the center concourse with UA, giving it the CO gates in the south concourse. then DL gives US several of its… Read more »
CP
Guest

US does have gates on the middle pier — the set right after security, before you reach the AA and UA gates. They run a shuttle to their main pier every few minutes.

DL
Guest

Great and helpful analysis, as always. One bone to pick,though: it’s not clear that the “upstate politician” argument holds water. SYR is the only city gaining, and the capital city is on the big losers list.

For NY state, this does seem to be about O/D traffic for LGA. Syracuse has the business base to sustain traffic, whereas there are better options for getting ITH-NYC. Having ITH-DTW but not ITH-LGA would seem to identify it squarely as a connection market.

Zack Rules
Guest
I am surprised that Delta killed the Ithaca flights. I would have thought that some of NY’s upstate or pro-upstate (Sen. Schumer) would have had a conversation or two with Delta’s folks about this. Maybe they are appeasing them by adding JFK-Elmira… Especially with the increased traffic on fracking, Binghamton, Ithaca, and Elmira, despite their small size, would have made nice additions. Also, what happened to serving the Cape markets of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket? Delta serves them both out of JFK but LGA would seem to make more sense from a utilization perspective? Perhaps it is the lower demand… Read more »
Trent880
Guest

To paraphrase a Far Side cartoon… DL takes a money losing operation that was so bad US would rather fly LGAPHL a thousand times a day, throws a bunch of capacity at it on high CASM RJs in lots of B6 markets, in one of the world’s most hyper competitive markets, pairs it with its seasonal x23 Transatlantic operation at JFK, “then a miracle happens”, and voila: profit.

Kilroy
Guest

1. Get more slots at LGA.
2. Add more flights from LGA.
3. ????
4. PROFIT!

MichaelAtMDW
Guest

TEN FLIGHTS A DAY to LGA from MIL on three different airlines? Am I reading the chart correctly? Does that strike anyone as absurd? Or does the traffic in MIL really support that?

Sanjeev M
Guest

It’s probably for the FL connections and any remaining F9 connections. Now that you point it out I’m pretty surprised too. We’ll probably see it go down.

Bill from DC
Guest
My observations (FWIW): 1. US has 23 daily flights between LGA and PHL??? That is stunningly bizarre to me, especially since the train ride would be sooooo much easier and faster for most O&D pxs between the two cities. Do we think they fly many of these just to preserve the slots at LGA and then just utilize the a/c from PHL? Or are these “shuttle” type back-and-forth flights? Would love to know how full those flights are! 2. I would imagine many of the “net gains” will disappear very soon when the bankruptcy reorganizing (read – cost cutting) AA… Read more »
Andrew
Guest

I believe the 23 daily PHL-LGA flights were to preserve the slots, as you suggest. It’s actually pretty funny to look at the current schedule for that route…lots of flights very close to each other, for example: 2:55pm, 3:05pm, 3:32pm, 4:05pm.

Graham
Guest

Like Andrew points out, US was squatting on those slots, which is unfortunate that they couldn’t do more with them. Hopefully we see some good news from DCA, though they too are sidelined by the perimeter rule.

CP
Guest

I think that DL has stated they want LGA to have a hub function. Much of their literature has read, “build a true domestic hub at LGA.”

Bill from DC
Guest

You’re absolutely right. However, I believe they are using the term “hub” at LGA to describe their large O&D operation to the masses (who will likely think that “hub = bigger” instead of envisioning the actual, airline geek definition of the word like we do). OTOH, the JFK operation is a hub in the true sense of the word as it utilizes connecting traffic from spokes to fill other planes. I doubt they wanted to describe these operations differently in their marketing materials so each airport, voila, becomes a DL hub.

Sanjeev M
Guest
-Baltimore – there’s Acela and buses. Plus DCA Shuttles and IAD. -Ithaca – I heard some complaints about this. DL still maintains 2 daily to DTW so should placate the NY Congress peeps. Seems DL is taking a page out of the JetBlue playbook. BTW Cornell also runs buses from Ithaca to Washington DC. -Lack of YYZ is not an issue as its heavily competitive with AC and Porter. @Wayne – US had some scope issues and had to maintain a minimum fleet size. This is why they ended up dumping some E190’s on Republic. DL is become the airline… Read more »
The Complainer
Guest

Ithaca is four-and-a-half hours from New York City–and with Cornell’s new multibillion dollar new tech campus being built on Roosevelt Island, keeping jet service between the two cities is VERY important. There is no rail service to Ithaca and flying from Ithaca to Detroit to get to NYC makes NO sense at all.

jabelson
Member
Brett: You write, “The last one is a special case. The 4 daily US Airways flights to Syracuse will be replaced by 5 from Delta. Not bad, but why is this happening? Delta has been particularly careful to court the New York politicians in this process. That relationship has helped open plenty of doors, so those upstate New York markets will be taken care of quite nicely.” But you conclude with, “…I say that as someone who doesn’t have to travel to Ithaca ….”. If DL was so concerned with courting New York politicans, it wouldn’t have eliminated the LGA-ITH… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest
Why Syracuse and why not Ithaca? Hmmm, let’s see. First of all, Also, Ithaca to SYR is about 60 miles. If you’re going to serve one, would you serve the 663k people in the Syracuse NY MSA or the 101k in the Ithaca NY MSA? Even expanding to broader CSA areas doesn’t help Ithaca’s case very much. Syracuse-Auburn NY CSA = 743k population, Ithaca-Cortland NY CSA = 150k. It probably hurts Ithaca’s case considering that the 50k or so added by Cortland is only 40 miles straight down I-81 from the SYR airport (compared to 20 miles to Ithaca’s airport).… Read more »
davidp627
Member
I am a little surprised by the Baltimore news. However, I don’t think you can discount proximity, Acela service and Southwest. SWA has BWI-LGA nonstops and Delta probably doesn’t want to get into a price war on a short route – expect SWA to increase service. Delta seems to be committed to BWI with nonstops to JFK, ATL, DTW, MSP, CVG, SLC and RDU (a recent addition). They are droppping MEM, however. I travel for business from Baltimore to the NYC area often, and NEVER consider flying. I always take the train. All in all, a little surprising, but not… Read more »
Jon
Guest

I was hoping for a “RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE REGIONAL JETS!” theme with this one.

SubwayNut
Guest
As a New York resident all of the changes in terms of the cuts especially make total sense to me (especially with Roanoke and Charlottesville keeping skeletal service) except for one destination Ithaca (but reading about Cornell’s Campus to Campus Connecter makes me less surprised). None of the discontinued flights I would ever fly since all of the destinations cut are well served with frequent Amtrak Service for business and upscale leisure travelers and from the new bus carriers like MegaBus (and the Chinatown buses) for budget travelers. I will never to fly to Boston or Washington either. Just last… Read more »
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Anon
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As a frequent flier out of Ithaca, this is a rather misleading article.

US Air added a flight to DCA in the new change, and runs a lot of flights from ITH>PHL every day. Continental already runs a bunch of flights to EWR, which has much easier connections into the mass transit systems in the area anyway.

Most people flying into LGA from Ithaca were doing it for connection purposes.

Point being, I don’t think it hurts ITH that much.

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