Delta Cuts LAX

Delta, ExpressJet, LAX - Los Angeles, Northwest, Schedule Changes

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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16 comments on “Delta Cuts LAX

  1. While I realize that it is a much bigger Delta operation than LAX, CVG has lots of RJ flights as well – I wonder what will happen there.

  2. Dan – ExpressJet isn’t flying in CVG, so my guess is that CVG won’t see much of a hit. If DL does want to replace ExpressJet in SLC, maybe a couple of RJs will move from CVG.

  3. Sorry for not being clear. It seems that RJ flights for all the airlines are at risk just due to operating costs. Delta seems really aggressive in this area by dumping Pinnacle and Expressjet and trying to dump Mesa. So I was just wondering if CVG could be hit as well.

  4. Dan – Ah yes, I get it. Do we know if they’re going to be successful dumping Pinnacle yet? That’s also the high end of the spectrum – they’re operating CRJ-900s and I don’t know that those are touching CVG yet. Anyone know?

    Still, I’d bet that if DL/NW goes through, CVG is toast as hub. It can still support point-to-point flying to major cities, but I’d bet that’s it. (Same for you, MEM)

  5. I thought Pinnacle was final, but now I’m not so sure.

    But I agree with you on CVG and the merger. I see it as a repeat of what happened to PIT after the US-HP merger. On the bright side, though, if Delta cuts back their operation there, fares will finally come down in that market.

  6. DL never did that LAX hub right anyway. For example, United is more than happy to let you go PHX->LAX->BOS if you’d rather connect in LAX than in a place like ORD (often: redeyes and the like, when a long uninterrupted flight arriving at your destination is more appealing than a shorter flight connecting to the early AM bank at the hub).

    Just my two cents…

  7. Which is the newer facility between NW’s Term2 and DL’s Term5 “Flight Center?” Term5 is almost exclusively DL except for the odd AA or CO flight. One flight a day from China Southern and Air Jamaica don’t add up to the kind of pushing and shoving for elbow room Term2 gets on a good international day (AF, NZ, KL, NW, CA, etc). NW moving to Term5 would improve their ground product, most likely, and not overstretch an underused terminal to begin with. Plus, with all the FIS traffic at Term2, not much room left for a “LUV” expansion there. That, along with the lack of any significant international growth at the airport for the short term, may solve more than a few issues at LAX: Ground product, northside congestion, taxi/ramp delays, etc.

    Just my two cents added to Wonko’s :-)

  8. What’s really funny is that I just bought a connecting DL ticket for travel in early Nov that includes this flight:

    9:15pm -> 10:55pm SLC->PHX Nonstop
    Delta 7677 Embraer 145
    operated by Expressjet Airlines Inc
    In-Flight Services Coach (U)

    The transcon fare was waay too cheap to pass up for times and dates that were what I needed, even knowing the ExpressJet situation.

    I’m curious to see how DL will fix this. They’ll either put in a SkyWest RJ from SLC or route me through similarly timed flights via ATL, I would guess. We’ll (err.. I’ll) see…

  9. Optimist – T2 and T5 are probably about the same in age. Western actually rebuilt T5 into the “Oasis” before the DL merger in 1986. Meanwhile, T2 was rebuilt in 1984. In terms of interior space, I’d say that T5 appears to be in much better shape than T2, but that may just be my perception.

    There are no AA or CO flights in T5. Just Skyteam partners AeroMexico, Air Jamaica, and Alitalia fly there. T2 has a long list of airlines there. It would make sense for NW to move to T5, but I don’t know if T5 can handle the 747. Other than that, it’s the best way to go, but that doesn’t mean anything. If the airline can hold on to equity in T2 and keep other airlines out in the process, they may do it.

    Wonko – They say all the SLC flying will be replaced by existing carriers, so you should be ok.

  10. The difference between T2 and T5 is primarily that T5 was designed to serve one carrier (Western) for primarily domestic operations while T2’s redesign was to serve as a multi-airline international facility to compete with the TBIT. I don’t think T2 was redesigned until at least 1989, I know Pan Am was still operating when it reopened. If you compare it to the 1984-build T1, T2 is much more modern and streamlined in appearance. The T5 redesign opened in late 1987 or 1988, I remember flying Delta post-merger and it was still under renovation. However I do remember getting some kind of T5 Oasis souvenir pin not too long after that.

    T2 has less gate space but more overall room, and I think every gate can accomodate a widebody. The LAX Two consortium that owns T2 has historically been able to fill its “slots” with international carriers who do not want to be subjected to the morass of TBIT. One of those foreign operators could possibly buy NWA’s equity stake, although it would be interesting to see if T5 can handle 747s.

  11. PSG – Good call. Found this article saying that the T5 renovation opened in 1988. (It’s a great look back on DL at LAX in 1991, by the way.)

    The difference with T2, as you point out, is that T5 was a renovation while T2 was completely rebuilt.

  12. It is sad that the LAX to SJC flight is being cut. I fly that route pretty often. Luckily my flight in late August was not cut out of this.

  13. I must say, very interesting sutff! I actually stumbled across full transcripts from Delta’s Earnings Calls at I hadn’t realized you could find that information online (at least not for free anyway). You can see their most recent transcript here:

  14. DL is slowly fixing their schedules by getting rid of ExpressJet’s scheduled flights. I checked this morning and my SLC->PHX flight in early Nov is now scheduled as being a CRJ100 operated by Skywest. Same times; different metal.

    I can’t change my newly-assigned seat on that Skywest flight yet, but there’s time yet…

  15. On a whim, I checked my flights again, and DL now had me down for a -35 minute connection in SLC. They apparently dropped the SkyWest CRJ100 and replaced it with the earlier mainline flight (that left SLC 35 mins before I arrived into SLC).

    Suffice it to say: I’m now connecting thru ATL ;-)

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