3 Links I Love: Delta’s Focus Cities, Delta Fixes American’s Failures, Reviving the Theme Building

This week’s featured link:

ANALYSIS: What makes a focus city for Delta?FlightGlobal
Here’s an interesting look at how Delta views its network. Focus cities are great and all, but I’ll be curious to see how many of them survive the next downturn.

Image of the Week: Wonder what United’s fleet will look like on every different aircraft type? Here’s a preview for you.

Two for the road:

‘We’re here to help everyone:’ How Delta employees saved a trip for OKC students booked on a competitorDelta News Hub
This just sums up Delta and American so well right now. American cancels a flight, has no way to help students, and just shrugs. Delta sees a PR opportunity, finds a spare plane, and flies them all to their destination.

Is LAX’s Theme Building coming back to life as part of an on-airport hotel?Los Angeles Times
Yes, please. Anything. Just get it open again.

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17 Responses to 3 Links I Love: Delta’s Focus Cities, Delta Fixes American’s Failures, Reviving the Theme Building

  1. Tim Dunn says:

    There will be plenty of people that will argue about what a Delta focus city is but an airline doesn’t build a 10,000 square foot club in a city and intend for it to remain just a small spoke city. Delta’s Sky Club in BNA is being expanded to more than 10k SF while the new club in Austin is just slightly smaller. In contrast, DL’s Sky Clubs in SEA and JFK are in the low 20k SF and both have showers. DL is known to be trying to get more gates at both cities and very likely has signed contracts in place to do so to gain a competitive advantage before designating both cities plus SJC as cities where DL intends to be the largest network/legacy/global carrier.

    As for the OKC student trip, DL Connection needed to ferry an airplane and didn’t even take the kids to their destination – DCA – but rather RIC – and yet DL got huge amounts of positive press. Considering how much capacity and new routes DL is adding to DFW, MIA, ORD and other AA hubs, stories like this on top of AA’s own labor issues (previously discussed on this site) and DL’s higher operational reliability translate into DL’s abililty to win over high value customers. Anyone who has watched the industry for a while can see the similarities to Delta-Eastern.

    • VIB says:

      According to a tweet from one of the chaperones, @barbour_5th, when asked why Delta flew them to RIC when they were going to WAS,

      “We start our trip in Williamsburg, Jamestown, & Yorktown before going up to DC.”

      So RIC was in fact their destination.

      • Tim Dunn says:

        thanks. I did not pick up that their trip was starting in RIC.

        Ian,
        Delta did not provide the list of markets it would serve before it designated any of its previous focus cities as focus cities. There is no reason to expect they should tell us what routes they will fly until they are ready to sell them.

        Given that they are investing in infrastructure in the cities they have now designated as focus cities and have said they expect to be the largest network carrier when they are not now in BNA or AUS, they clearly have developed a plan that will help them reach that point – and they will lay out the pieces of that plan as it becomes necessary to do so on a market by market basis.

  2. Ian Littman says:

    IM(NS)HO Delta can start legitimately calling places focus cities once they have routes to places other than hubs, other focus cities, and MCO. Delta apparently thinks differently about the designation, maybe assuming if they call something a focus city they’ll get a few extra passengers, which will in turn allow them to fill more planes when the non-spoke routes do actually start.

    In BNA, they’re basically competing against Southwest, so they can differentiate product-wise, and if they want to compete with Southwest on a route or three there’s enough traffic to do so (BNA-AUS would be nice). In AUS the landscape is a lot more fractured but Southwest is still ahead (because they fly to more destinations than anyone) so I’d expect something similar.

    In both cases, DL’s upgauging of regional routes to A220s gives them a few (comfortable) E75s to throw at point-to-point routes to see if they work. E75s in particular because they’re a more comfortable plane than Southwest 737-700s. As an added bonus, if demand increases enough on Southwest monopoly routes out of these planned focus cities, it’s there for the taking for DL since WN, thanks to MAX 8 groundings, can’t just add/densify flights without doing silly stuff like taking off at 5am (which is a good way to ensure you have to sell seats for $49 one-way).

    As for the OKC folks flying into RIC rather than DCA, that was where their flight was originally to AFAIK. And not sure it would’ve been possible to slot in anything at DCA anyway. Interestingly, AA and WN both fly to DCA, but AA only does it with Eagle. If they had been quick on their feet though maybe they could’ve offered to fly the students into DCA and upgraded the flight to mainline that day on a 319, but DL apparently has a lot more ability to get stuff done in IRROPS and this is just another case of that (albeit IRROPS on a completely different airline).

  3. DesertGhost says:

    I hope LAX finds someone who can restore the Theme Building as part of an effort to return it to useful service. We seem to have an insatiable desire to tear down old structures.

    • Glen says:

      Can’t agree more. One of my best memories as a visitor to LA is having a drink in the Theme Building after being dropped off a few hours before an international flight in 2004. Watching the planes come and go as the sun set was a great way to cap off a holiday.
      Just open it again as a basic bar already, people will pay silly amounts to have a drink and snacks there. People these days want unique experiences, and the Theme Building is unquestionably a unique LA experience.

  4. Ian Littman says:

    So what you’re saying is they’re focusing on these cities ;)

    I have no doubt that they’ll start more routes out of AUS soonish. Hopefully including AMS or CDG. At which point they’ll earn focus city designation. Right now we are just a well-deserved spoke.

    • Tim Dunn says:

      so you call AUS your home airport? Excellent. You can keep us posted on how things develop – including the concourse expansion.

      From what I have read, it is precisely because DL has supposedly got its name on several gates in the new concourse including an international capable gate that it apparently feels confident in saying that it intends to be the largest legacy/global airline in AUS even though AA and UA are both larger than DL based on 2018 DOT origin and destination data (as well as WN). As of this summer, DL will offer more seats than UA at AUS and DL also generates more ASMs because its hubs are further from AUS than AA and UA’s DFW and IAH hubs which are a good part of its AUS schedule.

      If the new concourse is open and DL doesn’t take any new gates or announce any new destinations, then I agree the focus city destination is over-promising – but I would bet their current schedule is limited by facilities.

      I am certain the same thing is true of BNA and SJC.

      • Ian Littman says:

        SkyClub opened three weeks ago or so at the new gates. The gates themselves opened back in late February, though not all of them were quite easy right then (long jetways had to be cleared out). My last two round trips were out of the new gates (MSP and JFK). All the pieces for Delta to expand are there.

        You’d think they’d announce *something* along with the SC, but they didn’t. There are rumors on next routes, and I’m sure they’re coming, but I’ll get out the confetti once they’re actually announced :)

  5. Lovecraft3XX says:

    If Southwest had an international partner, Delta’s ability to screw over the people of Atlanta with near monopoly pricing would dramatically decline. Instead SW is content to mildly underprice Delta.

    • Spacie says:

      And I’m content to pay Delta less by making my own connections and flying ATL-JFK-international on separate tickets as long as they make it more cost effective to do so.

  6. I’m curious how those kids got back from DC? Did they fly AA using the other half of the ticket, or did Delta fly them back after taking responsibility for getting them out?

    Also, did Delta get any money from AA for doing this flight?

  7. Michael says:

    Is no one considering that Delta doesn’t currently have any grounded planes? The other major carriers are also booked to capacity in peak season and are running a schedule without their Max 8s. Small wonder that AA didn’t have an extra plane sitting around. I’m glad Delta was able to help out the kids, but it’s not like AA was stranding them out of spite.

    • southbay flier says:

      Technically, it wasn’t Delta the pulled the jet, but it was Endeavor Air. I know AA has an issue with a shortage of mainline planes, but they still could be able to find a spare from Envoy. I read this as Delta was able to think outside the box and solve a problem and AA didn’t even bother trying.

      • Andy says:

        Endeavor Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta. That subsidiary was just where Delta had a plane the right size that they could send to help those kids.

        • AA owns Envoy, Piedmont, and PSA. They have even more choices than Delta for spare regional jets.

          • Andy says:

            You said “it wasn’t Delta that pulled the jet.” That’s the part I was getting at. The decision still came from Delta, they just had their subsidiary do the leg work.

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