It happened more quickly than I expected, but Delta has now rolled out what appears to be its complete domestic schedule for July. I’ve spent some more quality time with Diio by Cirium data to examine what’s going on.
As was the case for June, I find it best to compare one week in the month in question to another week in the prior month. Year-over-year doesn’t really tell us as much. So, I looked at July 15 – 21, 2020 and compared to June 10 – 16, 2020. That’s the same week I used in the previous June vs May comparison.
Overall, we see a steady increase in weekly flights.
As you can see, after a 25 percent increase from May to June, Delta stepped it up with more than a 50 percent increase into July. We’re still at a fraction of where we should be, but hey, it’s progress.
Where is all this flying going? Well, much of it is simply re-building the network and overflying hubs. When Delta pulled back in April, it focused on serving cities primarily from the nearest hub. Now it’s re-introducing connectivity. Once again, it’s Great Circle Mapper time.
Forget about Anchorage since that’s just a summer seasonal add. The rest of these routes are primarily a re-strengthening of the Atlanta hub by overflying Detroit in the north and Salt Lake in the west. You’d expect to see that as demand returns to help restore better connectivity from these western and northern cities to places in the southeast. Chances are that these flights are more about connecting traffic patterns than about local nonstop needs.
Another hub that’s likely to be happy to see July’s schedule is Minneapolis/St Paul. When Delta pulled back in May, it really saw MSP hamstrung by being in the middle of the triangle between Atlanta, Detroit, and Salt Lake. Now it gets a lot of routes back. Many of those in the northwest are probably due to summer strength. Montana does well in the summer, and its status as a nearly-COVID-free zone can’t hurt.
Just a bit to the east, Detroit gets a couple routes back, but it doesn’t have much gain. It also didn’t lose as much as Minneapolis/St Paul in the first place.
In the northeast, Delta continues to bring New York back from the dead, primarily — but not entirely — from LaGuardia. Boston sees some love as well. But do note that much of the growth is in Florida during the peak summer season. This makes sense, and it will be interesting to see whether it all sticks around into soft September or if there needs to be a backtracking.
In the west, Salt Lake regains much of its flying to east coast cities, and that includes Florida. This helps those eastern cities regain connectivity to smaller markets in the west. Oh, and ignore Cedar City. That was halted due to construction that closed the airport for a brief time. It’ll be opening back up for the July schedule.
Other than these, the only new route additions are Los Angeles to Orlando and Seattle to Kahului, Kona, and Lihu’e. The Orlando route just seems odd. There must be a Disney corporate agreement or something else going on to move this route back into the schedule. I have a hard time understanding it.
Looking at frequencies on existing markets, I’m pleased to say that not a single route loses frequency compared to June. A whopping 234 out of 427 markets gain frequency, however. In fact, 48 markets gain at least 12 frequencies per week. In other words, much of the growth is about fortifying existing routes with better, more frequent schedules.
Of the 48 markets with high growth, nearly half touch Atlanta. Routes range from something like Asheville to Atlanta going from 1 daily to 3 daily flights up to some hub-to-hub routes like Detroit to Atlanta jumping from 4 daily to 7 daily.
Other hubs have a sprinkling of large increases as well. Most notably, I see JFK to LAX going from 2 to 4 daily and the LaGuardia to Chicago/O’Hare shuttle goes from 2 to 4 daily. Minneapolis to the west also sees solid increases.
This looks like an airline that’s slowly and methodically re-building its schedule, reconnecting hubs, and re-creating single stop connecting options that had been severed. It’s a modest increase that notably has fewer flights than American’s June schedule.
I look forward to seeing how this compares when United and American load their July schedules.