A Closer Look at Delta’s May Schedule

Delta

I’ve already picked apart Southwest and American. Now it’s time to look at Delta network with a magnifying glass. The week-over-week schedule changes are harder to compare now that things have changed so many times. Instead, I opted to pick a single week in the middle of May (May 13 – 19) and compare it to the same days of week the year before. Thanks to Diio by Cirium and Great Circle Mapper, I’ve been able to piece together Delta’s current strategy.

Very Little Over the Oceans, But Some Going South

We can start with international, but a map doesn’t really help much here. Delta has pulled down to a very low level of flying over the oceans. Across the Atlantic, Delta is connecting with its joint venture partner hubs flying to Amsterdam from Atlanta and Detroit, to London from Atlanta and New York/JFK, and to Paris from Atlanta. All flights are once daily. It is also running 5 a week from JFK to Tel Aviv and 4 a week from Atlanta to Lagos.

Going over the Pacific, flying is even more sparse. From Detroit, there are five weekly flights to Seoul/Incheon and three to Tokyo/Haneda. Seattle has three weekly flights to each. That’s everything.

Down into the Caribbean and Latin America, there is a little more service. Nearly all of it is from Atlanta with the exception of a daily flight from Salt Lake to both Cancun and Mexico City as well as a couple of flights each day from JFK to the Dominican Republic and sub-daily flights from Los Angeles to Guatemala, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose (Costa Rica).

Really, international is a skeleton and isn’t nearly as interesting as the domestic world.

Culling the Focus Cities

Delta hasn’t been short of ideas the last few years in trying to colonize focus cities for its own gain. Those are effectively gone in the May schedule. Remember Raleigh/Durham?

RDU canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Buh bye. It now only has flights to Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis/St Paul. Or how about the old Cincinnati hub?

Cincinnati remaining (green) and canceled (red) routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

It’s not even a focus city anymore with only service to a handful of the remaining Delta hubs.

Oh, and Boston? Well, that’s held on just a bit more.

Boston remaining (green) and canceled (red) routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Don’t get too excited. Boston is still down to only serving Delta hubs, but unlike the others, this includes service to New York and Los Angeles. So… there’s that.

There was talk of Nashville and Austin becoming focus cities at one point, but there’s nothing to see there either. It’s all the same story. These focus cities are gone.

New York Gets Slashed But Not as Much As Others Have Done

Like every other airline, Delta has gotten in on the act of slashing New York service. Its place at the epicenter of the US outbreak means that demand is even less than the already nearly non-existent demand around the rest of the country. Still, Delta is holding on to more of a presence than I would have expected.

At JFK, you’ve already seen that Delta has slashed international flying. With that gone, it leaves little reason for domestic feed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t non-hub routes still flying.

New York/JFK remaining (green) and canceled (red) routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

You can see San Francisco on the list along with several Florida destinations plus San Juan. There’s also, the New York trio of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse still hanging on. That sounds like a political special to me. Oh, and don’t forget Bangor. I assume there are some guarantees provided by the city or someone up there to keep it flying.

LaGuardia, strangely enough, has been cut back much further.

New York/LaGuardia remaining (green) and canceled (red) routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Other than the shuttle to Boston and Washington/National, LaGuardia is only serving the other hubs. The decision to keep upstate New York operating from JFK but not LaGuardia tells me that this is about some kind of international feed. Whatever Schumer wants, Schumer gets, I assume.

The West Coast Fares Better Than Expected

The big surprise to me is just how much of the West Coast networks stays intact. In fact, for Seattle, it makes sense to just show you the flights that are going away.

Seattle canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The flights that are disappearing from Seattle are longer haul, thinner routes for the most part. These are spots that can be better served from other hubs, or by co-terminals in the same city. This is far less of a cut than I would have expected to see, especially when so many of these routes could be served via Salt Lake.

Down the coast, there’s another surprise in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles remaining (green) and canceled (red) routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Beyond the hubs, Delta will continue to fly to places like Albuquerque, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, and Tucson. American and United have both gutted LAX in the short run, but Delta apparently sees more opportunity. I can’t say I understand it.

The Hubs In the Middle Serve Their Regions

What’s left are Delta’s four inland hubs: Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St Paul, and Salt Lake City. Though these hubs do stretch beyond their own regions, the cancellations you see from each are mostly to longer, thinner destinations. Let’s start with Atlanta.

Atlanta canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

It’s pretty unmistakable what’s happening here. The canceled flights are mostly to the north and west of Atlanta. Those are cities which can all be served by the other inland hubs.

Here’s Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Cedar City is an anomaly. The airport is closing its runway for maintenance, so that had to go away. The only surprise here is that Salt Lake loses El Paso service. It will retain service only from Atlanta during this period. Maybe that’s a military or government need. But the rest of this focuses on cities that can be served from other hubs.

Let’s go to Detroit next.

Detroit canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

You can see these are mostly southern cities better-served from Atlanta, midwestern cities better served from Minneapolis/St Paul, and a couple smaller cities better served through Salt Lake or elsewhere.

With these maps coming together, you might think that Minneapolis/St Paul would feel squeezed in the middle. You would be right. Of all the inland hubs, MSP saw the biggest cuts.

Minneapolis/St Paul canceled routes map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

That’s quite the reduction, and it’s what I would have expected to see elsewhere. You can see most of the Mountain West is being left for Salt Lake with many eastern flights going from Detroit.

Wrapping Up

What does this tell us? Well, it’s the same strategy other hub-and-spoke airlines are using, but it doesn’t go nearly as far as I’d expect it should. Delta will still be running just shy of 1,400 flights per day that May week. Last year it ran more than 5,500 per day.

Even with aircraft downgauging, this is still seeing Delta operate more than 20 percent the number of seats it flew last year. That’s going to result in a whole lot of… empty seats.

United said it was going to cut flights by 90 percent for May. That happened over the weekend, but it hasn’t loaded into Diio by Cirium yet. Once it does, I’ll take a look.

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51 comments on “A Closer Look at Delta’s May Schedule

  1. GSP „keeps“ service to DTW in May but currently the once daily flight on a CRJ900 gets cancelled every day. Is there a reason to keep the service just to cancel it every day?

    1. Dave – In the shorter term, there were a bunch of issues around things like aircraft and crew movements. These should disappear sooner as we get further down.

  2. I understand the downsizing. The government enforced “skeleton”, negotiated as part of the bail-out, still leaves waaaaaaaaay too much capacity in the air, as we all know. What I do not understand is why there are still A321’s taking off, or even A320’s? I am 15 minutes away from CLT and still see A321’s taking off to Boston, Orlando, Miami, etc. Who sits on these planes? Why not take a CRJ2? Oh wait… contracts…

    It is lunacy.

    1. there aren’t enough RJ’s to cover all flying even if DL wanted do. But yea, they probably could do more. Ultimately, you have to fly the fleet you have, not the fleet you want. And in the past few years, DL has aggressively brought on a321s and 737-900s to replace the smaller MDs and old a319 / a320s. The 757 and 767 are already parked.

      Beyond simply “contracts”, pilots need to fly to stay current, planes need to be in the air or prepared and stored. So beyond just paying people, which DL could conceivably do anyway (just pay minimum guarantee even without the flying), this does help the airline recover faster, though that prospect looks less likely each week this continues. And fuel is pretty inexpensive these days so between the a321 and an a320, not sure how big the trip cost difference is.

    2. The argument about too much capacity at any airline comes down to too many airlines.

      Either you believe there will be enough demand return to sustain all of the airlines at a much smaller size or else the number of airlines needs to dramatically shrink.

      The Feds are not going to make the latter call; the market and the bankruptcy process will make that determination if it is necessary. In the meantime, there will be excess capacity even at skeleton levels.

      1. If anything, Uncle Sam will do anything to prevent the latter outcome from happening. Even the exit of relatively small players at this point would too politically problematic, especially in an election year.

        1. Even if any US airline filed for Chapter 11 on 10/1/2020, it is unlikely to be liquidated before election day, even if liquidations are necessary. It is very possible that a chapter 11 process could be enough for those airlines which need to do so to dramatically shrink.

          The notion that the government must act to preserve capacity and airlines which fly it which won’t work in the medium to long term just won’t play out in reality.

          UAL’s news today that they will need to seek loans in addition to the grants and the partial CARE loan shows that there will be enormous amounts of debt added to some airlines; that level of debt along with lower revenues will be unsustainable for some airlines, not just in the US but also globally.

          If UAL has to seek loans in addition to the grants, it is certain that AAL will as well. DAL and the rest of the industry is still undetermined.

          1. The 2020 election timeframe is admittedly too early to be talking about any market exit aside from any smaller operators who were already on the ropes before this. Assuming the situation with the virus has at least hit the nadir by the fall though, I would predict public policy will at least try to preserve the existing competitive landscape if carriers still look existentially threatened in 2021. If that is the case, there’s certainly no guarantee that the policy options on the table would be enough to make that happen, but there would at least be an attempt.

            To bring it back to your earlier point, either there is eventually enough demand for everyone to come back in a truncated form (I’m sure we all hope for this), or the industry will need to consolidate even further. Regardless of who sits in the White House and the majority leadership seats in Congress in 2021, I would bet on them using at least some of their policy tools to try and push it to the former option.

            1. To bring it back to your earlier point, either there is eventually enough demand for everyone to come back in a truncated form (I’m sure we all hope for this), or the industry will need to consolidate even further. Regardless of who sits in the White House and the majority leadership seats in Congress in 2021, I would bet on them using at least some of their policy tools to try and push it to the former option.

              This I agree with you. My main concern with this is not so much aviation related, but rather the psychological/ emotional impact of what Covid has done to the public at large & will do going into the future. You can think of it this way, a combo of paranoia, germaphobia & agoraphobia will overwhelm a large segment of our population & they will need serious help going forward.

            2. I don’t doubt that. The need for therapy and counseling among healthcare workers alone will likely overwhelm the mental health infrastructure in the US when this settles.

              Longer term, if this leads to some sort of structural aversion to travel among a large slice of the populace, then further consolidation among airlines is probably inevitable. As it would also be for hotels, OTAs, cruises (if they even make it through this), etc.

            3. Itami, curious what is your background… is it in aviation? Mine is psych BTW.

              Longer term, if this leads to some sort of structural aversion to travel among a large slice of the populace, then further consolidation among airlines is probably inevitable. As it would also be for hotels, OTAs, cruises (if they even make it through this), etc.

              That was well put. Being from the NYC metro area I see it this way, if one is fearful of riding the subway or transit more broadly, then there’s no way they’re boarding a plane anytime soon. As for cruses, we know they are the worst for viral transmission. I think the most common is called Norwalk, but it’s mild compared to Covid.

  3. United Airlines takes a $2 billion hit in quarterly earnings. – NYT

    United Airlines lost more than $2 billion in the first quarter, a decline driven by the virtual stalling of the global airline industry in March, the company said in a securities filing on Monday.

    The carrier said that it expected to receive access to a $4.5 billion loan from the Treasury Department under the economic relief law passed several weeks ago. United had already received about $5 billion from the federal government, mostly in grants intended to pay employees through September.

    If United decides to draw down the loan, in exchange it will have to provide the Treasury with warrants giving it the right to buy stock in the company, as it already did for a portion of the funds to pay workers. The new warrants would allow the government buy a $450 million chunk of United, or 14.2 million shares at a price of $31.50 each.

    In the first quarter, United earned $8 billion in revenue, a 17 percent decline from last year. The carrier also said it had $6.3 billion in cash on hand, including about $2 billion in undrawn credit.

    The airline has cut its schedule by 80 percent in April and expects to cut it by 90 percent in May and June.

    1. So the economy shut down mid March-ish and United lost $2 billion. Imagine what Q2 results will look like with 10% load factors on a vastly reduced schedule for April, May and most likely June with roughly the same expenses??? Sure they save on fuel and landing fees, but labor and aircraft leases are still the same.

      There is no way any airline can sustain this through the summer without at a bankruptcy filing. Liquidation for some are real possibilities. Given demand is going to be weak for the time being, one has to wonder if the government should decide who survives. Or to say it another way, does it make sense to provide a bailout for all airlines when we do not need the capacity any time soon.

  4. First, networks for May don’t reflect any long term strategies for DL or any other airline. They are simply a result of requirements to continue serving virtually all points in airline networks in order to receive the grant money.
    Second, I am not sure why you chose to drop the map for remaining destinations for SEA and other hubs since you used that same logic for AA and WN – or you inserted charts to show the number of remaining destinations by hub. If DL continues to serve the majority of cities from a hub, just show it rather than default to showing what was cancelled.

    Delta’s network for May are the result of the same logic that they used to build their network – hubs are primarily regionalized with international and longer haul domestic routes that overfly other hubs generally the last to have been added (some international routes have been operating for decades but are still younger than the hubs as a whole) and also are the first to be pulled down. Hubs are the most efficient way to serve the entire country and they are most efficient when many small cities are connected to many large cities.
    DL’s May network also reflects a high degree of maintaining the competitive nature of its networks; the fact that DL is still the largest carrier from NYC based on flights reflects what it had before. Likewise, markets like RDU have been gutted because they are heavily dependent on local traffic (without connecting passengers) and also because no one else is likely to jump back into those markets when traffic returns. Likewise, B6 has equally pulled down BOS and JFK so competitively DL is not losing much.

    Your articles don’t show the aircraft types being used but it is noteworthy that DL is serving a number of smaller cities on its network (such as OAK) with mainline aircraft while the majority of flights were on large regional flights before. DL is trying to keep its mainline aircraft and employees flying first and that will likely be true going forward; AA, AS and UA might use the same model and it might be indications of how much the regional carriers will suffer as this thing winds down.

    The choice in retaining JFK over LGA is also about competitiveness and also about consolidating and shutting down unneeded facilities in the short term.

    DL and other airlines are making logical decisions in how they operate a skeleton schedule and they will very likely rebuild based on the same principles they used before. ATL won’t be a 1000 flight/day hub again for quite some time but it will connect all corners of the US and the world again. AA and WN will use similar principles for their largest markets.

    1. Tim – while you are correct that May schedules don’t reflect long term strategies, I think it does offer a directional glimpse into what could change post-covid. I can’t help but think that some of the adjustments at certain hubs / focus cities at various airlines were indicative of larger issues with those operations that, given the financial impact of covid, won’t serve the same role after operations come back to “normal”. AA at LAX is one that comes to mind.

      1. I believe you are correct, Eric. There will be some hubs and focus cities that will not survive – or the development of which will be pushed back.

        Unlike DL and UA, and even WN, AA has not cut any hubs since its merger. There will be marginal hubs that will be cut; AA and UA have done more recently to build up their hubs and there is less of that which was likely profitable than for DL’s core hubs.

        As much as some want to hope otherwise, DL’s hubs in BOS and SEA are not likely to be shrunk. Its BOS international expansion will likely be pushed back but I would strongly bet that DL’s domestic capacity in both hubs will be brought back in similar percentages to AA and B6.

        DL made the decision to develop SEA as its primary west coast gateway to Asia and that is not going to change; the notion that DL and AS were inflicting pain on each other is internet nonsense. both have been well-run companies for years; AS’ profitability dropped while it digested Virgin American but began to return after it cut its California network. DL has waited years for SEA to rebuild and expand the international arrivals facility; that is nearly open and DL will use it and develop the supporting domestic network or walk completely away from SEA and leave all of the foreign airlines and AS to pay the bills for the new FIS. Given that DL always is thinking long-term strategies, it is unlikely that they will walk away from SEA.

        If anything, DL might be in a position to grow in LAX which would be enhanced by a stronger position on the west coast as a whole – something that CF noted right away is in play as part of DL’s May schedules.

        DL’s most recently announced round of focus cities at AUS, BNA and SJC represented growth plans that will likely not move forward at the same speed, if at all. DL was already the largest of the big 3 at SJC and that city, more than any, is likely to return to growth faster than other hubs/focus cities.

        BNA was short of gates and there will be some of the ULCCs that won’t make it in BNA which is heavily tourist dependent. AA and DL were battling it out to be the top legacy carrier and which one holds onto the title will likely depend on who is able to stay out of bankruptcy.

        AUS was always the most hairy goal as a focus city; it will return to growth quickly but is also in AA and UA’s backyard. Also short of gates, DL will grow AUS ahead of AA and UA if it can stay out of bankruptcy if the others go through C11. If all stay out or all go in, then DL’s focus city strategy growth will likely be put completely on hold.

        1. You are totally not getting it. BOS is shot. It has no purpose in DL’s network with TATL demand down and JFK likely to have plenty of room to grow. The need for a second Northeast TATL hub is just not there. Where is it even going to get the LHR slots to be competitive on BOS-LHR after VS goes under? It was their worst performing large station before COVID and it was the most recent one, which means DL leadership is the least invested in it. BOS/RDU/CVG are all getting significantly downsized coming out of this. I’m not sure how much more obvious DL can make it at this point.

          DL is down to 10 flights a day out of BOS in May. You want to see how many flights they have out of NYC, SEA and LAX? I would guess at least 3 times that if not more.

          DL has a great chance to dominate NYC even more than it does right now with AA likely to significantly reduce JFK/LGA coming out of this. It has a great chance to become the dominant carrier out of LAX. Or they can follow your advise and keep up their presence everywhere and cut equally.

          DL will be 30% smaller a year from now. The only question is where the cuts will be. Is it going to take advantage of AA/UA pulling down their presence in NY/LA or is it going to be busy picking fights with AS at SEA and B6 at BOS?

          It seems to have picked the middle ground and keeping SEA around instead of significantly chopping down both SEA/BOS. My guess after this is that SEA/LAX will be close to 150 flights a day type of stations by the end of 2021. BOS will be around 70 to 90 flights a day. RDU/CVG will be in the 40 to 50 range.

          1. well, yes I do get it.
            BOS is and will continue to be a very strong city and region. DL has every reason to have a presence in those markets whether AS, B6 or anyone else has a presence there or not.

            There is also the very real strategic issue which B6 raised by saying it would start transatlantic service using its NE hubs.

            Whether you or anyone else wants to admit it or not, DL and every other airline has no reason to toss out its pre-virus strategies just because demand across the board has vaporized for all airlines.

            the summer of 2020 is out of consideration for international travel; it is far from certain but unlikely that 2021 and beyond will be quite as bleak. DL has every reason to start rebuilding its BOS international network.

            and, again, B6 has cut similar percentages of capacity from its network which is heavily domestic; they aren’t exactly going to be flying capacity that DL can’t or won’t sustain. AS and B6 won’t be returning to 100% while legacies are at 70% domestically. Remember that capacity is measured in ASMs and the longhaul international operations that AA DL and UA operate. The legacy airlines understand that yields across the board and international travel will be slower to return but they have played this game long enough to know that if they cut to the bone and allow LCCs and ULCCs to grow, then they will be fighting to regain market share which is exactly what happened post 9/11. They aren’t going down that road again unless they end up in bankruptcy and have to fight for their survival, whether you want to believe it or not. There is no evidence that ANY US airline is viable at this point.

            There is no need to argue, though. Let’s just note our differences of opinion and come back and see where it all ends up in six months or so after some sort of stability returns.

            1. The reality is that legacies will be cutting more because they will be a in a weaker position coming out of this. DL is in a better position than AA and probably UA, but it’s going to be very low on cash and unable to do much other than hold on and build up its most profitable stations, which are the core hubs. There is no choice in the matter for them. With significantly reduced demand to TATL/TPAC, legacies simply have to come back reduced.

              A lot of these airline are doing models on how things look in a year. And these models are showing that AA, UA and DL will be 30 to 40% smaller (with AA closer to 40% and DL closer to 30 and UA a little over 30). The LCCs WN/AS/B6 will be around 20%. ULCCs is hard to say at this point. Really depends on how well domestic leisure recover. Hard for me to see all the ULCCs making it through this.

              What DL depended on pre-virus was corporate spending and revenue premium. That kind of stuff is not coming back for a few years when we are dealing with 15% unemployment.

              DL sees this. And they have chopped BOS to just core hubs and not even daily service to LAX/SLC for May (10 flights a day). Even AA is operating more flights out of BOS than that. It’s so obvious that BOS is the most redundant, least profitable and least necessary “hub” of their network. Frankly, they could even tear it down and build it back up 3 or 4 years later. Their terminal isn’t going away. It’s not a SEA situation where they need to schedule more seats to get more gates.

              You have DL sitting in LAX. It already has no flights to HKG and SIN on its own metal. It’s JV with VA is up in the smokes now, so it’s down to just a flight to SYD with no partner on the end. KE is coming out of this really bloody and likely to cut back. TPAC demand is going to down. So now, it’s up to DL to decide its west coast strategy. If it wants to be the top dog in LAX. It’s going to need to invest serious money to fly to all these places in TPAC region that are important to corporate clients in LA area. With low margins coming out of this and a need to build up cash again, you want to guess which stations will get the majority of DL’s resources?

            2. FC
              You clearly have come to your own conclusions and then ignored the facts that are available or came to conclusions absent any facts that would guide any conclusions to one direction or the other.

              You can jump to conclusions about what May schedules mean but I will argue that they mean nothing about long-term strategy.

              The difference between even the capacity cuts you note for the legacies and LCCs is EASILY explained by the enormous long-haul international route systems that the big 3 operate. If anything, we have ALREADY seen that the big 3 are operating higher percentages of their domestic systems than LCCs. Longhaul international capacity will be slower coming back – but pulling out a flight/day to some of the largest international destinations can easily explain how the big 3 will have greater capacity cuts.

              DL starts financial reporting this Wednesday, IIRC, followed by AA and UA; not sure if B6 has announced when they will report but you are jumping to a large number of conclusions without hearing from any of the specific airlines themselves – or see even their medium or long-term plans.

              You are free to jump to conclusions and bet that DL or any airline will walk away from the strategies that it built; I find it far more wise to wait and see and use all of the facts – including ones which we don’t know at this point – to come to conclusions about what each airline will do.

            3. Of course the legacies are operating more of their domestic capacity than B6 is. That’s what the data shows. The more domestic capacity you operate, the more money you lose. You think 10% LF domestically is something you want to sustain with more capacity. Due to everyone else drawing down, B6 can operate 10 to 15% of their flights total and still be dominant carrier in BOS and second largest carrier in NYC. Why does it need to fly more. Flying more lose more money. It’s such a simple and obvious trend. UA has finally accepted that market share battles are not worth it, so it’s now cutting 90% of its capacity for May/June. Other legacies might not need to cut that much but no airlines should be flying more than they need to right now.

              At this point, it seems like you think that DL doesn’t need to cut down that much even though they along with UA both have stated they will be smaller coming out of this. And they made this prediction over a month ago. Airlines won’t be able to make that kind of prediction that far in advance unless they project themselves to be significantly smaller. And things have only gotten worse since that time.

              What DL and every other airlines need to figure out is that in a reduced capacity environment, where do they make more significant cuts and where they do they make minimal cuts. At this point, DL is obviously going to keep its core hubs strong. AA is going to focus on DFW/CLT/DCA. UA is going to focus on DEN/IAH/ORD.

              Not only are you saying they won’t downsize BOS/CVG/RDU, you are saying they will merely slow down their “focus cities” of AUS/BNA/SJC. All places that don’t even have non-hub/focus city/LAS flights. That seems quite delusional. P2P flights will be the first thing legacy carriers cut. Next, RDU will get significantly downsized. After that, BOS and CVG.

              If you want them to sustain themselves in heavily competitive markets like NYC/LAX, the only way they get there is cutting down on other coastal hubs/focus cities.

            4. FC,
              you came to the conclusion that DL would walk away from BOS and constructed your own facts to present that reality – whether it is or will be true or not.

              No one said that DL is not going to reduce capacity across the board including in BOS; I did say and will repeat that DL is not going to walk away from their pre-virus plan to be the largest legacy competitor to B6 in BOS. BOS international will clearly be drawn down and DL will probably pull back on some of its newly added routes from BOS but I don’t believe they will wholesale walk away from BOS as a hub. You are free to believe otherwise but there simply is not enough data to come to any meaningful conclusion about what they will do at this point and May or even June schedules are not and will not be indicative of long-term strategies. You can’t argue that B6 has reduced capacity by 80-90% and not draw long-term strategic conclusions about B6 but then do the same for DL.

              And the actual cash costs to operate flights right now are very low. Crews are still being paid. Aircraft have to be paid for. Fuel is very low priced. The reason why airlines are not operating any more flights is because there is little to be gained by throwing any more capacity into the system.

              DL will compete in the largest markets including the transcontinental markets when there is even a modicum of demand – which there is not today. DL has mid-continent hubs (as do every other airline except for AS and B6) to use for right now; B6 has to serve transcon flights from the NE with virtually no passengers flying. That is a far more expensive exercise for B6 than for DL or the other legacies or WN.

              Let’s see how bookings go with the earliest states that start to re-open their economies – but it is worth noting that the states that are moving the first are in the South. That will help Delta more than many other carriers.

  5. Dear sir:

    When did this site become politically hacked by a “ Trumper “ ?
    “ Whatever Schumer wants, Schumer gets, I assume.”

    I could just as easily end my corresponding with “ Trump lies”’ and I wouldn’t be assuming.

    Let’s stick to the subject matter, not your political agenda.

    1. Your complaint actually proves Cranky isn’t political. There have been plenty of Trumpers who have complained on days they felt targeted by Cranky’s post. Now you are feeling targeted because of a remark about Schumer. Just because someone makes a remark about a politician doesn’t make them political. People need to lighten up.

      1. Let’s also remember that there are countless examples of politicians demanding airlines serve or maintain certain routes. Just look at EWR to Atlantic City or Columbia, SC (which was more egregious and illegal but still).

      2. Repeat, let’s stick to the subject matter . Write your political options/opinions on FOX or CNN websites blogs. I thought Cranky Flier was about aviation facts, not assumptions on politics.

        I agree, you need to lighten up! Huh, my “complaint “ proves that Cranky Flier isn’t political because , many “ Trumpers” have complained of being targeted by Cranky Flier makes no sense to me..

        Ben, have a wonderful day.

  6. Not for nothing, but ELP was only served by ATL (2x daily) for quite awhile. The reinstatement of SLCELP is/was relatively recent.

  7. Reason SEA didn’t get cut more is DL wants to put as much hurt on AS as possible. Sort of a I have more money that you so i can outlast you. Seams a little like Russian roulette to me.

    1. I agree there might be something strategic in play in SEA, but disagree on the reason behind it. I guess my feeling is they aren’t trying to hurt Alaska financially, since both of them are bleeding cash at unsustainable rates. However, I do wonder if DL is keeping more SEA flights in hopes of snagging more gates. A lack of gates is what has really hamstrung them there.

  8. One possible reason for the “extra” capacity is that It’s hard to practice “social distancing” inside an enclosed tube unless there are a bunch of empty seats. There’s one other thing that comes to mind (other than the points raised elsewhere). There has to be enough capacity in the schedule to accommodate upticks in demand when they occur. Political flights are one of the requirements one accepts when one gets government money. After all, the “Golden Rule” of finance is, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

  9. IIRC, I read something that showed that Alaska had more time to survive on its reserves than Delta. So, if anything, Delta isn’t in position to try to damage Alaska further. Besides, right now the only goal for any of these airlines is survival.

  10. DL has probably cut the appropriate amount.
    AA has not cut enough.
    UA maybe has cut too much, but it is the most interantional of the big 3.
    WN has really not cut enough.

    Not bad strategy by DL overall. Cut the focus cities down. A good chunk of those routes are not coming back for a while if at all.
    BOS as a hub is done. Probably back to a focus city with quite a P2P routes.
    Looks like SEA/LAX is sticking around as hubs coming out of this.
    Of course, NYC and core hubs are sticking around.

    The bigger concern for DL coming out of this is their JV/ownership strategy. That’s going to be a a disaster.

  11. I would be 99% sure that JFK-BGR service is because Delta only serves BGR from JFK and LGA normally, and apparently decided it was easier to keep JFK-BGR than move BGR service to some other hub, but needed to preserve some BGR service under CARES Act restrictions. Whereas PWM and some other small northeastern cities are being handled by DTW or ATL.

      1. DTW-BGR went off the schedule a few years back and then became once a week during the summer last year. I thought they had it down to LGA-BGR and had cancelled JFK-BGR as well.

        The only reason I kind of know this is that I was trying to book flights to BGR and it impossible to get a one-stop option from the west coast due to the LGA perimeter rule. BGR is more convenient than PWM for anyone looking to go anywhere from Mid-Coast Maine northward.

  12. Cranky, you certainly will have ample fodder for your massive “History of America’s Domestic Airlines from 1950 to 2050: “What Happened and Why.” The volume on 2020 I’m sure will be like nothing ever seen!

    As you write about how airlines are adjusting their schedules, I keep watching UA out of DC-area airports. From what I can see, and I may not be seeing everything, but just one flight a day out of BWI (to DEN); one, maybe two flights a day out of DCA (to ORD); 1, 2, or 3 flights a day out of IAD, to BOS, EWR, MCO, ORD, DEN, IAH, LAX, and SFO; plus 1 regional flight each to/from the spokes at Harrisburg, Shenandoah Valley, Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, Manchester, and Portland, Me. Anybody on here flown or crewed one of these mainline or regional flights? Load factors? How is seating handled to meet 6-foot social distancing? Masking requirements?

    One other thing, a pet peeve, pricing on these flights. Wouldn’t you think during these times our crazy fare structures would disappear and a single fare, (called a “Y” fare, if you remember what those were) would be applicable to every seat on every flight on a given route (non-stop or conncting), with a surcharge for the premium cabin and economy-plus seats” These are not normal times where fares are set to gin up business or steal it from someone else, so why keep pricing like it is. Check, for example, UA’s fares IAD-DEN and see the vast difference in fares for tormorrow vs. next Tuesday’s flight and the Tuesday therafter. Why $449 for this Tuesday, $289 next Tuesday, $232 the next, and $215 the next. And there is a Econ-Basic fare for next week, and the next, each with varying fares. Only Econ-Flexible fare is fixed at the low, low price of $564! Airline, pick a fare and make it THE fare!

    And, why on earth should Econ-Basic pricing exist? Why even charge for checked bags at any fare? Just tell travelers they have 2 choices: fit your bag and carry-ons under the seat in front of you or check them, without charge. Lock up the overhead bins as they are filthy and require actions to fill that allow the spread of “you-know-what” viruses.

    1. Regarding your pet peeve, there are 2 reasons:

      1.) Airlines reservation systems do not work that way. You can’t just change things you are suggesting without reprogramming, and sometimes significant reprogramming. These are unnecessary costs at this point.
      2.) Even under the current environment, airlines still practice yield management to optimize revenue. In fact, it’s probably more important now than before.

  13. I just have a comment not related to this post.

    If you are quoting something that someone said, could you either place quotes (“) around it or start by saying “Quote-“. In the real world you would also acknowledge the person who made the original quote as well.

    Sometimes people read your comment and think it is a duplicate post and don’t read the whole comment to get your point.

  14. DL also had started BOS-ORD service. Probably didn’t make the analysis since it was started after May 2019. But it appears to be gone in May.

  15. Point of clarification – Boston has had official hub status with Delta since June 2019. It is not considered a focus city by any means at all.

  16. I find the week you picked interesting because it seems that Delta has divided its May schedule in 2 around May 17th.

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