Can Austin Handle All This Growth?

AUS - Austin

American Airlines announced last week that it would add a slew of new service into Austin, building up the airport that it had already identified as one of the few non-hub flying opportunities it liked before the pandemic hit. Now, it is stepping on the gas in building Austin into a real focus city. The question is, can Austin actually handle all this?

American is adding flights to 10 new domestic cities (Cincinnati, El Paso, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Reno, San Juan, St Louis, Tulsa) and 5 new international cities (Cancun, Liberia, Nassau, Puerto Vallarta, and Punta Cana). It is also adding frequencies and extending seasonal flying in existing markets. In 2019, American was running about 30 to 35 flights a day. By November 2021, that will be up to 75 flights a day. It’s a big increase.

Of course, American isn’t the only one growing here. We’ve seen Alaska bulk up and Southwest too. Sure, international flying is down right now, but it will come back. And the question is… will Austin have enough gates to serve all this growth?

Today, Austin has two terminals. The cheap and distant south terminal is used by Frontier and Allegiant, and that’s not really an issue. We’ll focus on the main Jordan terminal which expanded from 25 to 34 gates in February 2019. Here’s a look at the number of departures by hour using two peak non-holiday Sundays in 2021 and 2019.

Austin Departures Per Hour

Data via Cirium

Ok, so the highest utilization will occur in the 4pm hour but it’s still well below the airport’s gate limit. Problem solved, right? Well, this was a short post… goodnight and thanks for reading.

Just kidding. There is, of course, much more to this story. First, it’s not really 34 gates here.

According to airport spokesperson Mandy McClendon, one of the gates — gate 13 — has no jet bridge and would only be used for a busing operation. Further, when a widebody operates, it takes up two gate positions. It can use gates 1/3, 2/4, or 4/6. So if you think about peak hour in the late afternoon, and let’s pretend we have two widebodies, we’re really down to 31 gates.

I know, I know. That’s still more than this schedule needs, but don’t forget, it’s not all that perfectly efficient. Notably, departures per hour doesn’t show the exact gate needs at any one time. That’s a deeper look. But more importantly, not every airline can use every gate.

We’re talking about American here, so take a look at its schedule this November.

American Airlines – Austin Departures Per Hour

Data via Cirium

It will need to have 10 gates available for use at peak time if it wants to run its schedule. Today, American controls only five (gates 23/24/26/28/30). Delta has four (7/8/9/10), United has five (25/27/29/31/33), and Southwest has eight (14/15/16/17/18/19/20/21). Mandy did tell me that each airline has to have at least one gate with Austin’s shared equipment so that other airlines can use it when the primary airline is not.

That leaves 11 gates which are common use (1/2/3/4/5/6/11/12/22/32/34), the first six of which are international-capable. That has to accommodate all the other airlines using the terminal which includes Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Hawaiian, JetBlue, KLM, Lufthansa, Spirit, Sun Country, Taos Air, Viva Aerobus, and WestJet.

British Airways and KLM both will arrive just after 4pm when they are operating, and Lufthansa pushes back just before they arrive, so that’s four gates out of commission from the common use pool at that peak time. The number of available gates is shrinking, but on the other hand, JetBlue did cancel several Austin flights last weekend, so that helps free up space. Let’s call that a helpful coincidence.

American tells me “We have worked with the AUS airport to make sure gate space is available for our fall schedule.” That settles the question about whether American will be able to find enough space, but it doesn’t say what will happen next year when other airlines start ramping back up again.

Austin has been a very popular place, and several airlines have been clamoring for space. Even with the 9 gate expansion that opened in 2019, Austin could probably already put more gates to good use.

There is a master plan which envisions a midfield concourse being built and connected to the main terminal, but master plans don’t tend to result in immediate gratification. It seems American knew a shortage of gates would be coming, so it decided to plant its flag. Southwest and Alaska have staked their own claims. That’s not great news for Delta’s plans for a focus city, if it ever really did involve additional flying.

33 comments on “Can Austin Handle All This Growth?

  1. The South Terminal is a mess to be honest. It is euphemistically a three gate terminal, but it only has two parking spots. This leads to traffic jams if any of the Allegiant or Frontier flights are delayed in any way.

      1. Correct, no jet bridges. But its terminal building is also not very big, even when you include outdoor seating.

        Now, I don’t mind that terminal…flew out of there in mid-May on F9 and will again in late July on G4…but you’re looking at 1.2MM passengers out of there, tops, with no international support (so Spirit and Sun Country have to stay in the BJT, and F9 can’t go international).

  2. Airline schedules beyond July don’t mean a whole lot at this point but up until summer flights at AUS are up just a few percent. UA, NK and F9 are all down. Since AA’s next big growth is scheduled, the number of flights is up over 35% per day to over 250 flights/day with AA now larger than WN which is what is most significant.
    DL’s growth by November is at more than 25% in flights and puts it close to the same size as UA but larger by ASMs. AS and DL have both added more flights by November compared to 2 years prior than WN.
    There is no assurance that any flights are ever certain but the sheer amount of new point of point to flying by multiple carriers including AA and AS means that the hurdle for those flights financially to work is much higher than for hub flying. And there will be competitive implications that airlines have to consider; is it really worth growing a non-hub location at the cost of growth in hubs which is already happening and will happen even further as the recovery continues. AUS is a hot market but it might not fare as well compared to other carrier growth in your top hubs.

    AUS is on the verge of gate saturation if the announced flights don’t put it over the top. Everyone is in a gate grab. AUS is doing the right thing with having such a high percentage of common use gates. It is more notable that there are fewer flights/hour scheduled at the major morning hours than there in the middle of the afternoon or early evening. Some airlines might be towing planes off the gate at night but there is still alot of growth capacity in AUS’ schedule esp. in the morning. If WN can run 10 flights/day at Love Field and 15 from one gate, the less than flights/day that are scheduled at AUS is easily doable.

    The bigger challenge for AUS might be to keep the flights on and the computers running.

    1. “ the sheer amount of new point of point to flying by multiple carriers including AA and AS means that the hurdle for those flights financially to work is much higher than for hub flying. ”

      To the contrary, all these P2P adds by AA partners makes it easier for AA to connect in Austin, as necessary. It’s something that’s already happening. It’s certainly not the goal of the adds but the sheer number of adds by AA partners is making it easier for all of the flights to work financially. The increase in P2P is actually decreasing the financial threshold.

      Cranky, it’s worth noting for the AA flights that, since most of the new flying is e175, it should be easier to get those on and off the gates vs a mainline aircraft.

    2. “Airline schedules beyond July don’t mean a whole lot at this point,” but you reference DL’s projected growth and size by November. Which is it, do post-July schedules not matter or will DL be larger than UA?

  3. I can save a fair amount of time and typing if I simply copy and paste what I wrote on Jun 14, 2021 at 10:23 am re: JetBlue (but it also applies here):

    A couple of thoughts:

    I think it’s important to remember that we’re in a somewhat unprecedented situation. It’s hard to tell how many of these route changes are going to stick around once the situation stabilizes. It’s also important to note that no one knows what the new “normal” will look like. The fallout of all of this could be minimal or game-changing. I may be totally wrong, but I think I’ve observed a growing trend toward more point-to-point routes among traditional hub-and-spoke carriers. That’s contrasted with Southwest’s trend in the last few years toward fostering connections in strategic locations. Will Southwest continue its apparent move toward more connecting “hubs?” Will the legacies move toward Southwest’s and the ULCC’s point-to-point models? It’ll be interesting to see what hybrids might emerge, if any. I mention this because I’ve heard quite a bit about how airlines have enhanced their flexibility during the pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the increased flexibility is real, and how much is rhetorical.

    Some of the above was, and is, playing Captain Obvious.

    But another thought has occurred to me. Some of this smacks of Northwest’s old “Heartland Strategy.” And former Northwest CEO Doug Steenland is on American’s Board. Coincidence?

    To reiterate and sum up: I wonder how much of this new legacy point-to-point flying will stick around as things stabilize. I also wonder if Southwest is going to continue its increasing move toward scheduling for connections. We may or may not be seeing a new hybrid business model approaching. Delta made some of the same moves pre-pandemic, so … Stay tuned.

    A number of years ago, I remember seeing Doug Parker at a Congressional hearing where he stated that he liked Southwest’s business model better than US Airways’. He didn’t get into why that was, but it would be interesting to me to find out what his thoughts were. Maybe some of this new point-to-point flying and growth in non-hub markets reflects that thinking. As I wrote above, it should be interesting to see how all of this shakes out.

    End of bloviation …

    1. NW’s heartland strategy was about building a strong presence around its hubs – so AA is doing that with AUS. But 3 of the big 4 carriers have large operations in Texas so AA will be stepping on someone’s toes with its growth, some of which is to other carrier hubs or markets where other carriers have been historically strong. And then there is duplication between AA and its “partners” AS and B6 on some routes.
      There is bound to be a certain amount of all of the new flying for multiple carriers that will not work when fares return to normal levels – which are necessary to be profitable. This summer, the focus of the US airline industry is to get people back on planes and to try to stake out new territory.
      Don’t forget that AA is still well below where it was pre-pandemic at several hubs including both LAX and PHL. The same is true for other carriers. AUS might be the place where carriers decide to hang their hat but I suspect that AS might high tail it back to the Bay Area or AA might decide it is not worth losing PHL if competitive capacity grows too much there.

      Game theory aside, CF’s graph highlights that AUS has only 3 hours where there are more than 20 departures/hour and only 1 that is higher than 25 flights/hour. AUS is seeing alot of growth and that is fitting for a city growing as much as it is but I’m not sure there is any compelling reason to think that the “no vacancy” sign is going to be put up any time soon.

      1. I think you’re missing my point. I’m not overly concerned with what’s going to happen in the next three weeks or three months. I’m looking at the long term, three to five years out. And I’m simply guessing about the possibilities. I have no clue what the situation will look like in the next three months – or the next three years. But with that in mind, it seems fairly clear to me that most of the current overcapacity/undercapacity situations will resolve themselves over time.

        That’s because I tend to think that most airline executives and planners aren’t quite as stupid as some aviation enthusiasts think they are. In making that point, I have no one specific in mind. It’s a general observation. But to be clear, that doesn’t mean I think airline executives never make mistakes. They most certainly do.

        It’s a sad aspect of human nature that people often tend to couple high salaries with an expectation of absolute perfection. That’s simply not fair – or accurate. People who earn a lot of money are still human. And humans make mistakes. One of the main differentiators is that airline executives and managers have to plan and project forward, and have no idea about possible crises. Aviation enthusiasts and other critics have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight.

  4. What AA is doing right now at AUS is entirely unsustainable. They are filling seats by advertising extremely cheap connections via AUS, which means fewer, more profitable connections through DFW and real problems if you have some delays. You can’t easily accommodate passengers that missed their connections, because they only have 1 flight a day to the destination.

    I’m not sure what’s the meaning of this strategy. Are they trying to just claim gates so that DL doesn’t get them? They already have the greatest point of sale in AUS, more than WN. DL is so far away from encroaching AA here. They could always add flights when DL adds flights here. What do they get for building up AUS? They are not a LCC. They make money from large hubs, not from small focus cities.

    It seems they are also trying this strategy to a smaller degree at BNA and RDU. Again, when did adding P2P routes with a lot of LCC competition become a good idea? Do they actually think operating RJs on TPA-BNA/RDU is anything but a huge money loser?

    1. For what it’s worth, AUS doesn’t seem to get snarled by weather nearly as often as DFW does, so routing around DFW isn’t a bad thing. And if the AUS operation looks shaky on a given day for connections, you have PHX and DFW to route folks through.

      Not that this actually makes AUS sustainable, but the land grab does mean UA can’t add it as a P2P market, nor can Delta, until AA decides to drop back again. And Spirit can’t grow as much either.

  5. Living in AUS, I have seen the battles between the large carriers. It seems like AA is slightly morphing to a combination of business and leisure flyers. The same with UA. DL seems to be focused on many business markets. And the growth in AUS continues to grow. According to our local NBC TV station, since 2010, 94 company headquarters moved from California to Texas. Twenty-eight of those companies settled in Austin. And people are moving from many northern states to gain employment here. That is thousands more employees. While AUS has had some international flights (Europe, Canada and Mexico) we are also hearing that Asia flights are on the horizon. That means even more gates will be needed. Eventually ABIA will have to knock down the shack AKA The South Terminal and build a real terminal.

  6. I don’t think Nov schedule is fixed, but when I looked through AA’s sorta finalized Sep schedule, many E175 flights are designed to turn around in 30-35 minutes. Not impossible but super tight. Maybe AA doesn’t expect the flights are going to be full?
    Looks like AA is creating hub at around 4pm. That’s when most common gates are completely full with AS and the mentioned international flights. We’ll see if/how AA updates schedule.

  7. I still think that at least part of American’s strategy in Austin is simply to block Delta. The Southwest is the biggest hole in Delta’s network.

    The nearest hubs are in Atlanta and Salt Lake, and the number of suitable cities is not large. They aren’t going to put a hub in Dallas or Houston, not with Southwest hubs and legacy fortress hubs in both.

    So where else is there? Kansas City is too close to MSP…they already failed in Memphis. Austin is the most logical spot, as it is geographically centered and has a significant amount of originating traffic.

    This actually protects that massive DFW hub by blocking a major competitor. At least in my opinion.

    1. and yet the top graph shows that AUS still has alot of capacity even after AA’s ramp up. By Nov, just about every carrier is scheduling more flights than they did in Nov 2019.
      I don’t remember when the new gates at AUS were opened (anyone?) but they were never filled.
      If AA is attempting to block anyone, they need to add a whole lot more flights.
      AUS is growing fast enough that they need to begin work on the next round of expansion but there is room for airline growth with the gates AUS currently has.
      The biggest outcome of all of this is that the ultra low cost carriers will constitute a much smaller percentage of AUS capacity than they did pre-pandemic.

      There are other mid-sized cities that wish they had the ability to support growth that AUS has.

      1. Not really Tim. To build an actual hub and not just a focus city? They really won’t want to compete with 75 American and close to that Southwest flights on peak days.

        We have seen that smaller hubs don’t work well. You need to go all in, with large banks of flights multiple times a day. Delta would basically have to build a new terminal in Austin for that. And American’s actions not only make that difficult and costly, they even tend to make it less attractive in San Antonio either, because it’s too close to Austin.

        1. Delta hasn’t ever said it wants to build a hub. AUS for them is a focus city which doesn’t involve connections.
          AA isn’t creating a hub and neither is WN. AA connections are basically hub to hub via AUS and maybe a few spoke to a hub flights that duplicate what is available through other hubs. AA is simply not creating a spoke to spoke hub at AUS and neither will Delta.
          It all comes down to who has access to gates. As has been noted, there isn’t a free for all for gates in AUS. There is order and there are limits to who can expand.
          AUS has room for expansion. If AA’s domestic expansion is not free to spread over the entire airport, the impact to the airport as a whole is not near as some might want to belief or hope.
          And if any carrier really has preferential access, then they might have be capable of bumping anyone else from those gates.

          I have a feeling that all of these discussions about AUS will prove to be as accurate as predictions about votes on Supreme Court cases. (for anyone that missed it, they have quite a string of unanimous decisions)

          1. DL focus city terminology was/is all about marketing. They are tiny in AUS when it comes to grabbing local market share. Even if they grow 100% over the next 5 years at AUS, they’d still be tiny compared to AA/WN. It’s not about whether or not the airport has room for expansion. There simply isn’t enough demand to support all the new flights.

            AUS right now has become the most fragmented market in the country with as much competition as LAX to most of its larger/medium sized market. Yet, it has a fraction of the demand that LAX has.

            AA will drop most of these new routes and settle in a pattern of hubs, a couple of business/leisure markets. That along with its partner flights that earn EQM means it will have the largest network and control local market share. All this additional routes they added are pure craziness and makes no strategic purpose.

            1. of course a focus city is a marketing designation just as releasing a schedule for any flight.
              Delta is 3rd largest in AUS based on ASMs based on schedules after AA’s next ramp up and was on revenue pre-covid. Tiny? no.
              Your last paragraph is probably most accurate. Alot of AA’s adds probably won’t stick in part because AA is stepping on its own partners w/ such overcapacity; perhaps they are trying to use their partner strategy to push Delta out of these markets but that is about as likely as DTW will close as a hub.
              Look at AUS to JFK and JFK; DL is the largest carrier based on seats. AA is adding a bunch of new capacity on top of what AS (LAX) and B6 (JFK and LAX) already fly. WN UA and NK are also in the LAX market. One of them might blink – UA is only flying E175s. but if there are bad economics in the market, it is doubtful that DL or WN are going to back down.

              Unlike any other carrier AA has used covid on multiple occasions to try to grab market share in some markets while “borrowing” formerly used capacity in other markets; they are creating massive overcapacity in some major markets while neglecting others. Sure WN is growing aggressively in a whole new set of markets, including AA and UA hubs as well as to Hawaii but WN is pulling back from very few markets even if they are reducing high frequency markets where they would be the dominant carrier with 6 or 12 flights/day.
              And the whole AUS thing comes down to who really has access to what gates. Even if all of the carriers other than AA, UA and WN all have to use the half of the AUS terminal which DL uses along w/ widebodies and international, there is still ample space.

              The airline industry is a marathon and not a sprint. As with everything else, a follow-up in a year esp. when average fare data comes in on how well these new flights perform will provide great insight into how likely all of this growth is to last.

            2. correction. based on local DOT revenue data, DL was 4th largest in 2019 in local market revenue from AUS. But at 76% of AA’s 2019 revenue and 66% of WN’s revenue, they weren’t tiny. And DL had the least amount of gates at AUS among the big 4 which was undoubtedly part of why they built a very large Sky Club and got access to more gates. I also suspect they knew full well what would happen when they affirmed just recently that AUS would be a focus city, esp. given that DL hasn’t scheduled anything from AUS to hubs and a single focus city flight to RDU – which is all they cut from BNA as it lost its focus city designation.
              AA’s buildup is a an attempt to dethrone WN at AUS. Those two will figure it out not just in AUS but in other markets where they are bumping up against each other. DL might be smart, just as in MIA, to sit on the sidelines and watch other carriers throw punches even while growing stronger in key competitive markets like NYC and LAX.
              Can DL succeed at a focus city without being the largest carrier? I dunno. That isn’t the model they use in other focus cities or hubs but AUS is a huge growing market where no carrier is dominant. DL wouldn’t have been dominant in SJC but wore the focus city title for a while and it was likely dropped because the outlook for Bay Area traffic recovery is much worse than the rest of the country.
              It will be quite interesting to follow-up on this in a year and see at least preliminarily how it shakes out.

            3. It’s not just about how much ASM you schedule. It’s about how much local revenue you capture. Domestic market share by revenue pre-COVID
              AA – 30%
              UA – 15 to 20%
              WN – 30 to 35%
              DL – 15%

              That’s before all the adds by AA and WN. DL is tiny.

            4. based on DOT data, for the year 2019,
              WN was the largest carrier in AUS with 25% of local market revenue
              AA was second with 22%
              UA was third with 19%
              DL was fourth with 17%.

              If you want to think that 17% is tiny compared to 22% or 25%, that is your choice.

              AS was next after DL with less than one-fourth the revenue. AS and below would be considered tiny.

              None of which changes that the entire notion that AA’s growth at AUS precludes anyone else from growing is just not supported by any facts. And AA’s growth is more of a strategic threat to WN in AUS, not DL.
              Or that any growth, whether by AA in AUS or B6 in RDU or LAX will survive.

              It was just the beginning of this week that CF accurately noted that B6 was ending a bunch of its experiments while AA cranks up a bunch of its own.

              Life is a marathon. We all get to record our prognostications but follow-up data is what will confirm whether (or if) any of us were right.

          2. I don’t know how you aggregated that data, but my source got those numbers based on DOT data. Since I’ve seen his other numbers, I would assume he has a better handle at processing it than you do.

            Your numbers add up to 83% for Big 4. I don’t see how remaining carrier can come anywhere close to 17% . So, your numbers definitely under count AA and WN. DL is tiny at AUS compared to the pre-expansion AA. It should not surprise anyone that AA is the dominant legacy carrier in AUS. Even DL doubling the number of flights will not change that. I’m sure that’s hard for you to accept, but that is the reality.

            1. If the data says that the big 4 have ~80% of AUS revenue, then I believe it unless there is some reason to believe the data is corrupt – which I don’t see. Given that the data for the U.S. as a whole says that the big 4 have between 80 and 85% of revenue, then it isn’t far-fetched to believe that low cost carriers and ULCCs have 13% of the revenue in the AUS market, esp. since their capacity share is falling from a much higher level in 2019.
              Your bias becomes apparent when you think the difference between 22 and 17 of anything makes the latter “tiny” and it raises the question of why you feel a need to belittle someone or something when they really are 75% of your size. The LCCs in AUS are tiny compared to the big 4 but the big 4 are each separated by just a couple percentage points in revenue.
              And the bigger issue is why some people feel a need to believe that a move by one carrier shuts out another. If the market determines that there isn’t room for another carrier to grow, I and everyone can accept that. If DL decides AUS is no longer worth pursuing, they will move on.
              But if they have a list of markets that they believe can work and make it work, why is it difficult to accept that there might be room for multiple strong carriers in a city like AUS which is far less dominant than practically every other hub/focus city/base for any airline?
              And, fascinating as AUS is to discuss, the fortunes of the industry have been and will be moved by what happens in each carrier’s largest markets which for the big 3 include NYC, LAX, MIA, ATL, CHI etc. A single percent of the LAX market based on 2019 revenue is worth 4X what AUS can generate and NYC revenue is 8X more valuable. Sure everyone has to fight for every market but AUS is just not going to move the needle on a global basis, esp. since competition is growing much more in major east and west coast markets. I have a feeling that WN will grow its national revenue share far more than whatever will happen in AUS.
              Let’s see what the data says in a year.

  8. Betting that Spirit starts using the bus gate in exchange for continued cheap per-pax fees from AUS without being forced to move to the South Terminal, where they can’t run international flights.

    For what it’s worth, the new part of the airport is for wide-bodies, international, and Delta basically exclusively. AA’s ecpension for now precludes DL having enough gate space to connect traffic over AUS, so if they want to expand here they have to pick O&D markets big enough to fill planes (whether those planes are 70 passengers or 109). Interestingly, we already have a nom-negligible amount of A220 flying, per AUS’s monthly reports.

    Of note, I think there’s actually significant room for G4/F9 to expand in the South the scheme of things, if only because that terminal was hitting 100k passengers per month pre-pandemic as I recall, and it’s below that now. Small in the scheme of things, but they could probably get 15 flights per day with some coordination, which isn’t nothing.

    I do think we’re capped out on airlines here, except maybe getting the odd daily-or-less international flight, until we get another terminal expansion though. At this rate, wouldn’t be surprised if 2021 passenger numbers hit what we got in 2017, despite a slow start to the year, and are above 2019 numbers in 2022.

    1. thanks for the date of opening of the new gates. It looks like AUS never was above 205 flights/day before covid and is at 255 with an average of just under 8 flights/day.
      There are still 33 usable jetway gates at all times EXCEPT for when widebody operations are in place which is only during a couple of hours per day.
      Widebodies don’t affect overnight parking or first flights of the day and, as of now, there are a maximum of only 2 widebodies on the ground at a time based on schedules through next spring.

      There is room for at least 60 more flights/day assuming no carriers use the bus gate or move terminals to get up to 10 flights/day which is not excessive for a non-hub station and realistically there is a 12 hour window over which flights can viably depart from a middle of the US city like AUS.

      As for the comment about Delta and O&D vs. connections, they designated AUS as a focus city. Delta focus cities are not designed to carry connecting traffic although cities like RDU do based on a certain amount of logical connections. Their schedules through the end of 2020 are all mainline except for 2 E170/175 flights and a single flight/day to RDU is to a non-hub city.

      I’m intrigued by your statement that the new gates are only for DL or international or widebodies which is what I thought to be the case; if true, other airline domestic growth does not limit Delta’s ability to grow.

      1. Well, Tim
        If it doesn’t impact delta’s ability to grow… I’m sure everyone is excited to see the Austin growth announcement by Delta that’s about 24 months overdue by now. Or, at the best, ~4 months overdue.
        If delta is so keen to keep Austin a focus city, where are they? More flights to Atlanta don’t make a focus city.
        Might be about time for you and delta to admit that aa kicked delta out of making austin a focus city. Though, as always, I appreciate you toeing the delta propaganda talking points on Austin. Are you waiting for Glen to tell you it’s no longer a focus city before you decide delta is wiser to stay out of austin and telling all of us you knew that all along?

        At this point, Delta would have to be financially insane to go into austin without any kind of strong supporting hub nearby. They announced too soon and got beat by AA.

        1. Julie–

          DL doesn’t use the term “Focus City” in the same context we’re all used to. Think of it as a euphemism for “place where there’s lots of population growth, lots of young people, and lots of disposable income.”

          It’s not about P2P flights or S-curves; it’s about finding the next generation of SkyMiles members.

          1. I agree Delta doesn’t have any consistent usage of the term “focus city” but there is no other airline or airline industry company that uses the term so they are the only context we all know.
            And, though Cranky did a nice job in a previous post outlining how little Delta’s marketing term means, it’s hardly a stretch to note that every other focus city has, over time, had considerable amounts of P2P routes.
            Redefining the term focus city to make delta look better after the fact doesn’t do much. They got beat because they didn’t have a strategy ready to implement in Austin unlike their previous moves in Boston (when it was only a focus city) or RDU.
            A focus city has never been about more flights to Atlanta and Detroit for Delta. It just hasn’t.

  9. It’s not a fantasy to realize that Delta has a hole in their network in this area, nor is it wrong to realize that Austin would be the best location for one if they can make it work.

    American doesn’t care if Delta has a focus city in Austin or not. That’s small potatoes. They do care if they give Delta room to take a focus city and then build it into a hub, which is what they did in Seattle.

    This move makes that quite difficult if not impossible.

  10. AA will just use the bus gate like its planning on doing at JFK. I mean, the penny pinchers in Dallas needed to find somewhere to send all the ex-US buses that they no longer need for DCA 35X….hmmm….where to send them….AUSTIN & JFK!

  11. Sure wish all of you using abbreviations for airports and airlines could spell them out for those of us
    interested in the Cranky Flier posts.

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