Delta’s Decision to Dump Focus Cities Makes Me Wonder… What is a Focus City?

Delta

Delta made something of a splash last week at the Raymond James Institutional Investors Conference when it announced it was going to dump three focus cities. It also laid out a map of how the recovery is going to go in its remaining hubs and focus cities. It’s hard to say this was much of a surprise, but it did bring up an important question for me. What does it mean for Delta to call something a focus city?

Below you’ll find a map that shows what the airline’s plans are for each of the current domestic hubs and focus cities in its network.

There are really four tiers going on here, but let’s start with the hubs, which have three.

Hubs Return in Phases, But The Schedules Don’t Match

The first is the green check-mark brigade. Those are the hubs in the middle of the country that have maintained the most service during the pandemic. We clearly saw this early on as Delta slashed coastal hubs in favor of those in the middle in order to boost up connectivity, not to mention cater to the locations where people were actually traveling.

Next up are the orangeish/yellowish check marks. New York and LA have finally begun to awaken from their slumber. As I’ve chronicled recently, LA has seen big growth this summer with new routes and higher frequencies. It’s like Delta woke up from a nap, shook off the cobwebs (sorry, Columbus), and decided it was time to move forward in LA. New York seems a bit further behind, but it is starting, and it will continue.

The red check marks are both hubs and focus cities that will come back but haven’t yet. In the conference, Delta said Seattle and Boston rebuilding will resume in mid to late-2021. That sounds right for Boston, but I have to say it seems rather off for Seattle, not to mention some other ones above. I went into Cirium data to look at how schedules are shaping up in 2021 vs 2020 for each of the first four months. This looks at departing seats by hub. I didn’t exclude middle seats, because it doesn’t really matter for comparison purposes.

Delta 2021 Departing Seats by Hub vs. 2019, Jan – Apr

Data via Cirium

If you’re going to say that the green hubs are coming back quickest, then it seems like both Seattle and LA should be in that category. Just last weekend, Delta filed Seattle changes that dramatically increased the number of weekend flights. It’s also rather odd to see New York so far down there when Seattle is at the other end.

But I don’t want to spend too much time on the hubs, because we know all the hubs will come back eventually. It’s the focus cities that are more interesting.

Delta’s Focus City Plans Aren’t Clear

Delta apparently had five focus cities before the pandemic: Austin, Cincinnati, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, and San Jose. Delta now says that it will keep Austin and Raleigh/Durham around since they are fast growing strategic markets, but the other three are out. (In case you were wondering, Memphis lost its focus city status long ago.)

I hadn’t even realized that San Jose was considered a focus city until I saw this, and that left me wondering exactly what makes a focus city for Delta. My initial belief was that it was a matter of the airline flying to strategic markets from that location without involving hubs.

Delta Non-Hub Destinations by Focus City, 2018-2020

Data via Cirium

I took a pretty broad look here and counted all the non-hub destinations that Delta served from each city during the three year period of 2018-2020. I only excluded the cities that had special event flights, like Las Vegas during CES with a handful of operations clustered around the event.

What we see here is that yes, Cincinnati certainly fit that bill. Of course, Cincinnati had well over 100 destinations when it was a true hub pre-merger with Northwest. So it has been a steady decline. In April, it is down to 8, and more cuts are likely. But Delta will keep a somewhat larger than normal presence in Cincinnati. It just won’t be important enough to get the “focus city” moniker.

Raleigh/Durham has also been blessed with several flights to non-hubs, but that’s when this starts to fall off. Nashville only had four destinations, and by 2019 it was down to three: Cancun, Orlando, and Raleigh/Durham. Austin had two: Cincinnati and Raleigh/Durham. Meanwhile San Jose had only one, just Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Cancun, Orlando, and others had far more service than these, yet they weren’t focus cities. That clearly wasn’t the determining factor.

I started to think that maybe it was a function of the local passenger. After all, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cancun… those have a lot of destinations because of Delta’s ability to bring people TO the destination, not from it. Was a focus city something that required a big chunk of originating travelers? I took a look at DOT data showing Delta’s share of originating passengers.

Delta Percent of Originating Travelers by Focus City

DB1B data via Cirium

Apparently not. Sure, in Cincinnati, Delta still carries a commanding percentage of total local traffic, but that will change as it continues to cut routes. Meanwhile, outside of RDU, the other routes saw Delta with very low percentages of local originating traffic. It can’t be that.

Ultimately, I did the easy thing… I went and asked Delta. And what was I told? There isn’t actually a definition of what makes a focus city. It’s really just a loose grouping of markets where Delta sees growth potential in a variety of ways.

Cincinnati + Delta does not equal growth potential, but I guess that place fell under an old definition, a tweener of a city that was big enough to get some special designation but no longer big enough to be a hub. Since Delta left the hub, Allegiant, Frontier, and Southwest have moved in, now making up a third of all capacity there, and Delta keeps pulling back further.

At the other end of the spectrum is probably San Jose. Delta’s presence there was always miniscule. It doesn’t even have a SkyClub. But Delta had climbed from having about 6 percent of seats a decade ago up to nearly 12 percent. Southwest has continued to fly half the capacity in the market. Alaska has grown significantly to be just shy of 20 percent. Delta must have thought it could make a dent in the market, but I’m guessing what it found is that the loyalty to United and Alaska when you count SFO along with Southwest meant there wasn’t much room for Delta to make inroads in what is an important market. Maybe it tried more of a sales-forward focus. Or maybe it just focused marketing and promotions. Either way, it’s now done.

Nashville is a more interesting one. That’s a hot market, to say the least. Ever since American abandoned its hub there decades ago, Southwest has been in control with about half the capacity in the market. In recent years, American has dropped significantly while the ultra low cost competitors have crept in. But Southwest has stayed steady. There is growth potential in Nashville, and many airlines are trying to cash in, but Delta must have decided that it just couldn’t win that battle, so it is abandoning… whatever it was going to do there.

And that brings us to the two that are sticking around. In RDU, Delta had the largest capacity share in 2019 with about 30 percent. Southwest was around 20 percent, as was American. Frontier has grown rapidly and now controls near 10 percent. But for Delta, I have to assume that it figured it would be easier to fight off American here than in Nashville when it comes to legacy airline supremacy. It already had a position of strength before the pandemic, so it might as keep it up.

The same can’t be said for Austin, however, so that’s more curious. Southwest is the big dog in Austin with about a third of capacity, and then American, Delta, and United each sit around 12 to 14 percent. Frontier, Spirit, and Allegiant make up another 10 percent. This is a fragmented market in that sense, but those Texas-based airlines have deep routes. Still, Delta must be betting on all those people moving into Austin from elsewhere; hoping that they’ll keep some loyalty and fly the fancier airline. It’ll be much harder to pry away the true locals from their existing preferences. But hey, it’s a tech haven that’s growing fast, and Delta wants to be there. Besides it’s the only one of the big four without a significant Texas hub.

In the end, I can’t find a clear dividing line suggesting why Delta is picking one over another, but at least we now know that it’s a pretty subjective moniker. If you are a focus city, don’t put too much stock in it. If you’re not, well, I wouldn’t cry too much.

49 comments on “Delta’s Decision to Dump Focus Cities Makes Me Wonder… What is a Focus City?

  1. I’m surprised that Delta has kept CVG as a “focus city” (or has kept this many flights, or this many banks of flights there) for as long as it has. CVG isn’t a horrible airport, but for a mid-size city CVG could be a little more convenient. Once you hit the northern edge of the beltway (Blue Ash, etc), where many of the mid-story office complexes and wealthier suburbs are, flying out of DAY has similar door-to-gate times as flying out of CVG, and DAY has nonstops (or at least it did pre-COVID) to major business markets. For leisure pax, CVG’s fares have traditionally been relatively high, and the presence of a handful of airports 1-2 hours away with LCC/ULCC service (Indy, Columbus, Dayton, Louisville) creates options for price-sensitive pax willing to drive a little.

    I know that distance to other hubs isn’t necessarily a significant factor, but it’s also worth noting that CVG & BNA are both ~250 miles from major Delta fortress hubs (DTW & ATL, respectively)… Not driving distance for O&D pax to fly out of those airports, but short hops for planes, and close enough to capture some of the connecting pax that previously went through CVG & BNA.

  2. It was never obvious (at least to me) that SJC and BNA were DL focus cities. The axe falling on CVG is the culmination of years of downsizing and reshaping what clearly has not be profitable for a long, long time. RDU and AUS are for sure, locations where business travel (and leisure too) will drive growth, but business travel will be slow to ramp back so DL must play the long game in both.

  3. I keep thinking about when I went to college in Colorado Springs between 2007 and 2011 from New York City which never had a non-stop flight. On my first trip out there I flew LGA-CVG-COS, I know the airport also had long-standing service to MSP and ATL, and while I was in college pre-meger Northwest even tried flights to Memphis for a few years. I would sometimes head up to Denver to have a non-stop and flew Delta DEN-JFK multiple times.

    Today it looks like Delta only has service to Colorado Springs, from Salt Lake City with the discontinuation of the ATL flight, making them useless to anyone coming there not from farther west. For example from my current home in South Bend (which has a lot of Delta loyalists) I would need to double connect backtracking all the way to and from Salt Lake City to fly Delta when I can now just head to Midway (the new Southwest flight) or O’Hare (potentially flying there on United from SBN) and go non-stop.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard SJC mentioned as a Focus City–at least not in what we would consider the normal context. There’s some “I-5” flying (LAX, SEA), but other than that, I never saw anything indicating a larger expansion of P2P routes.

  5. Just a wild ass guess here, but British Airways flies LHR-SJC, and there are/were some Chinese carriers doing SJC-China.

    Connectivity for the LHR flight, and the SJC-AUS flights were probably lucrative enough to warrant “Focus City” status.

    But now, anyone that wanted to go to Austin moved there already, and to hell with London (Brexit), so bye bye SJC ?

    1. What does a BA flight from AUS or SjC have to do with Delta making either city a focus city? If anything, those flights to London make AA much more relevant to both markets, brexit or not. London is very far from done as an international draw economically or for tourism once Covid draws down. Far more draw economically or for tourism than AMS or CDG nonstops could possibly do for delta. CDG obviously has the tourism draw but is still below London in economic or tourism demand.

  6. The sum total of all this reminds us just how dominant American Airlines once was. They grabbed Deregulation by the horns. It started with a large expansion at DFW in 1981, a mortal blow to debt-laden Braniff. That DFW growth also ensnared Delta, which finally capitulated in 2005/06.

    Bob Crandall then leveraged a two-tiered pilot pay scale into massive growth. Hubs were born in SJU, RDU, BNA, and SJC. This was accompanied with the “Something Special In The Air” ad campaign. At the end of the decade, MIA was purchased from Lorenzo. And, of course, all those new hubs contributed to massive growth at AA’s existing stations. It was a true juggernaut at that time.

    And here we are now, 30 years later. Like legacy AA, Delta has tried — and failed — at establishing focus/hub/whatever-you-want-to-call-it operations at SJC, BNA, and RDU. The industry today is MUCH more tactical than in Deregulation’s initial, dizzying, decade. Today, it’s a gate or two here, or more credit card takes there. The daisy-cutter competitive bombs the airlines used to gleefully drop on each other have been replaced by GPS-guided, laser-targeted smart bombs, designed to minimize collateral damage. Yield management and credit card profits informed by Big Data are the smart weapons today.

    But a war it remains, nonetheless. But today, it is death by a thousand cuts, not by firing squad or the hangman’s noose. It is a long, slow, calculated leveraging of the adversary into an untenable and undeniable position of surrender. Corporate will imposed. And if Delta’s tacit acknowledgment of today’s “game” results in retrenchment into their super-fortress hubs where it can heal its wounds and restrategize, so much the better. They must now walk the tightrope between maximizing their hubs and being trapped within them by the ever-growing and remarkably agile Southwest.

    1. Keith – Accuracy is also a helpful benefit when snarkily commenting. LAX is a Delta hub, so it is not counted.

    2. He was listing flights to non-hubs, and since LAX is a hub, it didn’t meet those criteria. Seems he did his research.

  7. I always figured it was a focus city if I could connect there to another destination. RDU and LGA always used to come up as connection options for me. Not that I’d ever be crazy enough to connect at Laguardia. BNA always seemed to me similar to LAS or ORD. Big tourist destination. Sure, there is actual O/D business travel there but since everyone flies there for the party they get the benefit of direct flights to everywhere across most carriers. The people I do know in Nashville are very loyal to WN though for whatever that’s worth.

    1. Does that argument make Omaha a focus city on American?

      I connected there back in 2019 on a last minute LAX to ORD trip. There were quite a few of us connecting between the same two flights. It wasn’t a bad way to cross the country on the E175s on both flights with their nice wide seats.

    2. I’ve connected at LGA a couple of times on DL: STL-LGA-RIC and PWM-LGA-STL pre-COVID of course. No problems, don’t schedule a connection less than 90 minutes and you’re pretty much good to go. The “great” thing about LGA is if your incoming flight is late chances are your outbound flight is as well. So, call me crazy.

    3. “Not that I’d ever be crazy enough to connect at Laguardia.”

      Where’s your sense of adventure?

  8. Delta’s statement makes me wonder whether they even know what a focus city is.

    Along with the explanations of the colors on their map that are contradicted by the actual data and of course the senior level pay raises during a once in a lifetime pandemic where billions of federal taxpayer dollars have been taken and thousands of taxpayer jobs have been lost makes me wonder if the bloom is off the rose in ATL. For a while, it seemed as if they could do no wrong.

  9. Yes, Delta has a nice SkyClub here. But they didn’t even start the SJC flights before the pandemic hit IIRC, so the only routes we saw to non-hubs were obvious focus cities. Which just screams “important spoke” to me, just like BNA.

    I’ll start calling AUS a DL focus city when they serve something point-to-point that isn’t another focus city (or CVG). AA had slated BOS and SJC for flights from here pre-pandemic, and didn’t pretend those elevated us.to focus city status.

    I won’t deny that we have a solid schedule from DL here, with plenty of 321s to ATL and even some A220s buzzing around to modcontinent hubs. But until I see serving like SJC or BNA actually show up as a destination, while Delta doesn’t have a clear definition for focus cities, I do, and we aren’t one.

  10. In perusing the map, it looks like Delta’s focus cities may be better labeled as “lack of focus” cities. The west coast is a simple example. Does Delta really need a “focus city” in San Jose when it has major operations in Seattle and Los Angeles? Maybe it would be better off to “focus” on those cities instead of diluting its efforts. Then again, maybe not. The same thought process (which admittedly could be flawed) applies to the southeastern U.S. where Atlanta is truly the 800-pound gorilla. On the other hand, I can understand Delta’s efforts in Texas, as its network has a major hole in that part of the country. In the end, I think you answered your question “What Is a Focus City” in the last paragraph of the piece. Each airline defines it. To paraphrase William Shakespeare, “A focus city by any other name …”

  11. The entire DL focus city is just a marketing scheme. Branding BNA/SJC as such was just their way to try to get better performances in 2 airports dominated by WN.

    AUS is about the 2nd most fragmented market in the country behind LAX, but with a tiny fraction of LAX’s demand. At this point, DL is well behind WN and even well behind AA if you factor in AA’s partnership with AS/B6. Even adding a few more non-hub flights would make them still quite a few behind AA. Unless they can get large number of gates to be able to run an operation that’s notably larger than AA + partner options out of AUS, they simply won’t become legacy of choice. Every airline and their mother are looking to add flights at AUS. How is DL going to get these gates before other airlines if they are taking time to bring this back.

    In comparison, RDU is a much less fragmented market. That’s why B6 has been aggressively going into here.

    Even on the hub front, their talking point simply doesn’t match reality. They are clearly working really hard to bring back capacity at SEA to compete with AS out there and adding back capacity at LAX. BOS is way behind those 2. And same with NYC.

    Just to put things into perspective, they are running almost as many flights out of RDU as BOS in April.

  12. I think DL uses the term “focus city” in two ways. One is the traditional sense where they operate flights to non hub destinations. The other is most likely a marketing designation for a market where they want to focus on point of sale and corporate contract gains.

    DL would be wise to bolster its presence in AUS as the pandemic recedes to better position itself for future growth. AA, UA and WN will definitely make it difficult but if DL can gain a good foothold in the corporate market they can make it into something more like pre covid RDU.

    RDU will be back but will most likely take longer as DL focuses on rebuilding costal hubs and seizing opportunities as they pop up. A possible problem will be letting everyone else (WN, B6) grow too much unchecked. If they make inroads while DL is focusing elsewhere it’ll be rougher road to recovery.

    1. Yeah I was gonna say, there is no cookie cutter definition for their focus cities. It is essentially where DL saw opportunity and that opportunity comes in various shapes and sizes.

  13. I still haven’t seen what cuts are coming to CVG. From what I understand, Paris, Chicago, Dallas, lots of Florida are still being planned or are happening. CVG may not be a “focus city” but it’s certainly larger than most other cities its size.

    1. I”ll also add that CVG is unique in that many Fortune 500 companies call CVG home such as GE Engines, Kroger, P&G, Luxottica, Macy’s, and multiple large insurance companies. Additionally, I think CVG has also a huge SkyMiles membership base, which I assume SJC and BNA don’t. When corporate travel comes back, they’ll need/want nonstop options.

      1. Honestly makes you wonder how much longer those companies will stay headquartered in CVG…
        Most of those companies have major subsidiaries in other cities so it wouldn’t be that difficult to move to a city with better access to the world whether it’s: ATL, Dfw or any other major city that most companies look at when they consider moving a headquarters.
        I’ve wondered how a brand company like P&G attracts quality talent to a smaller city like cvg. I don’t mean that as a dig to the wonderful people of Cincinnati, but it’s no New York, LA, chicago or other major city of a few million+.
        Maybe this sort of de-hub/de-focus is the final kick to move. There are definitely states happy to help companies make that HQ move.

        1. Cincinnati has a low cost of living and is a pretty vibrant place in its own right. It’s actually a really nice place to raise a family. When I was in business school in the last 10 years P&G was absolutely a top recruiter. People wanted to move there and they did, and those friends of mine who went there love Cincinnati. Not everybody wants to live in the sprawling suburban, traffic-choked hellholes that are Dallas and Atlanta, despite their better global connectivity. Cincinnati still has very good air service, connectivity to all the largest cities in the country, and is a great place to live that is growing. It’s a perfectly fine place to keep a company’s headquarters, and I dont see P&G or some of the others leaving any time in the near future.

          1. Perhaps no major company will leave, simply making the point that having a hub in a city is a pretty major draw for a HQ which is why you see cities like CLT having major growth over comparable cities like RIC or the recently de-hubbed CLE or MEM.
            Happy to be wrong

  14. SJC, AUS, RDU, and to a lesser degree BNA are all tech focused growing markets. Prior to the pandemic, this is where midmarket business travel and middle income business travelers needed to go (outside major markets). And with the exception of RDU, they are all dominated by Southwest. Delta probably wanted to make a go at the business travelers in these markets that needed/wanted more network than Southwest could provide. The world is much different in 2021, than when the decision to chase these secondary business markets was made.

    Speaking from a Bay Area perspective, SJC has to contend with both SFO and OAK having locations more central to most of the Bay Area. Anything north of Palo Alto is easier to access from SFO. So to pull travelers into SJC fares have a ceiling. When SFO is full (of weather delays, runway capacity, etc.) and fares are sky high, SJC becomes a more viable alternative. OAK tends to be the more leisure/regional focused airport (for a while AA and UA didn’t even bother to serve the airport). This squeezes SJC as the not quite regional/leisure and not quite destination/business international airport. SJC has experienced this cycle many times. DL is right to pull out now and when fares rise, can quickly add service.

    1. Yep, and “Tech Focused” is usually synonymous with “Young Money” and/or “Discretionary Income.”

  15. You can apply this logic to hubs as well. Southwest has larger “focus cities” than some major “hubs.”

  16. I expect JetBlue to eventually displace Delta from RDU – it just makes too much sense for JB to make their own SE hub there to go against DL-ATL and AA-CLT. The AA partnership also boosts JB at RDU with the AA-CLT hub there as a convenient backup option when JB doesn’t have a nonstop.

    AUS as a focus city is a lost cause for DL. Any serious traveler in Austin will stick with AA or UA so they have convenient DFW and IAH backup hubs (respectively) if there’s no nonstop. AUS is just too far from DL hubs (SLC, MSP, DTW, ATL) leaving way too much of the country inconvenient from AUS on DL. And there’s intense SWA competition in AUS on top of that. I don’t think it works as a focus city with strong WN and AA competition, but DL does desperately need a Texas/South-central hub to fill a big hole in the geography of its hubs, and Austin is the obvious choice. The problem is the competition is so strong I’m not sure they can do it incrementally – they really need to “big bang” a 200+ flights/day hub there to get traction and zoom past AA and WN. With the pandemic they should have the spare planes and pilots to do it, but I doubt the gates are available. I wonder if they could create some temporary gates with a covered walkway on the tarmac similar to LGB?…

    1. I wouldn’t characterize AUS as a lost cause for a DL focus city. Now if we were talking about turning DFW, IAH, ORD, DEN, CLT, PHX or MIA into a focus city I’d be much more inclined to your way of thinking. AUS will most certainly be a challenge but I see WN as more of the target than AA/UA for DL’s expansion. If DL can be successful in luring away a chunk of WN’s business travelers while satisfying their current customers they can turn AUS into a RDU type of focus city. It will most likely never be a DFW or IAH but it can still have a sizable operation for DL.

      1. I came to say about that same thing. I’m in AUS, traditionally loyal to WN when I only flew for personal trips.

        As my business flying increased, I shopped around. AA has never been good to me. So, UA vs Delta.

        It’s a bit of a toss-up, but with AUS’s new extension (with Delta being the main carrier there) and their new SkyClub coupled with their Amex Plantium lounge benefit, it checks a lot more boxes than it used it.

        For personal stuff with the family or intrastate travel, I’ll probably still do a lot with WN. (Delta doesn’t compete on a ticket cost level). For business or travel beyond a single hop, Delta is pretty darn compelling.

        1. I get it if the SkyClub and Amex benefits are big for you, but if it’s about convenient flying and you don’t like AA/JB/Alaska, rethink UA. It can get you on nonstops to the top five biz markets in the country – NYC, LA, SF, DC, and Chicago – plus convenient connections thru Houston, Denver, or Chicago for anything else. IAH is the ultimate backup – half-hour flight and then you have connections to almost 200 destinations. Delta’s hubs at SLC, ATL, DTW, and MSP create a whole lot of territory they can’t access from Austin without inconveniently backtracking through one of those hubs – plus nothing nonstop to SF, DC, or Chicago.

  17. WHAT ABOUT MIA?
    Certainly with the TPA and MCO and anything else added to support the LATAM JV, MIA would qualify as a “focus city” even without consistency of meaning? Or is MIA dead in the water?

    1. Mountain Man – Tim was not banned, but after repeated warnings, he was told that his comments would be moderated as a warning. He did not like that and decided to use fake names and different IP addresses to get around the moderation and spew angry comments. He stopped shortly and has not returned, best I can tell.

      1. Thanks for the reply Cranky. Makes sense, I see him once in a while over at VFTW and OMATT whenever Delta is mentioned.

  18. AUS is still growing even with the pandemic. More HQ’s are moving here. AA cut their non-stops out of here. Have fun going through DFW. Plus the Admirals Club is way too small for the number of members. UA goes mostly to IAH. DL is beginning to add more flights such as BOS. I would expect more to be announced (per a Delta Club employee).

      1. “This summer, American and its partners — JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and British Airways — will serve 19 of the 25 largest markets from Austin, providing more choices and a seamless customer experience.” (and everywhere else an easy connection thru DFW)

        Wow. That is a big move. Delta has no shot in Austin. But sometimes I wonder if they knew that all along and are just playing an Art of War game? Get your opponent (AA) to commit his resources defending something you’re threatening to attack, but it’s really a feint? AA has to make these nonstops work economically (against SWA), and they’re also weakening their DFW hub feed.

      2. Came here for this, that is a boatload of new service!

        IMO AA has the best chance to gain a stronghold in AUS because they probably already have a large number of AA business traveler loyalty and elites from DFW connections and they had the most service of the non-WN carriers.

        My only nitpick is 2x to IAD? Why not DCA?!

  19. In my humble opinion, AUS may be ‘the one’ to watch over the next two years in the US domestic market. So many ways it can go. WN in the middle of a strategy change. AA going big. DL making noise.
    It’s geographic location almost begs for potential Texas/Oklahoma/Louisiana feeder flights that would actually generate some O&D.
    Austin in that 7 hr donut hole where driving starts to be very inconvenient vs a 50 min to 1 hr flight.

    I’m thanful we have this site to be able to efficiently lay out data and quality commenters to enhance the discussion.

  20. I know with Delta in BNA, we were given a member of the executive team to oversea/ participate in BNA things. The executive would routinely (every 3 – 6 months) host customer meetings with the top 20 ish fliers in BNA. He would ask us about new destinations and get our feedback on what was and was not working. While, I am not exactly sure my self what makes up a Delta Focus city, the BNA ATL route though was running hourly from 5 am to 9 pm and half were 757s, as mentioned we had very few direct to non hub flights other then the weekends to MCO and Mexico. I would assume we were a focus city because of the Executive representation and thoughts that Delta was going to add a flight to Europe and Asia as part of the long term plan.

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