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Monday, November 17, 2008

Delta Replacing RJs with M/L Equipment

Kathryn Creedy

Two weeks after the Delta/Northwest merger, Delta is adding new mainline service at Memphis but is replacing regional jets with mainline equipment as it adds service to Memphis. With plans to increase capacity among its U.S. hubs 14.5 percent in January, its new Memphis flights include new service to New York and Salt Lake City. Delta is increasing hub-to-hub connectivity in January in preparation for the summer 2009 schedule and to improve passenger connections to international services.

Delta said that connecting its hubs at Atlanta, Memphis, Minneapolis and Detroit, as well as Memphis includes adding new international service from New York and Atlanta to Europe, Africa, Japan and the Middle East. Salt Lake gets a new daily nonstop to Tokyo, which not only leverages the Narita hub but provides the only trans-Pacific route from the Rocky Mountain region. Next year’s summer schedule includes 15 new international routes, including 12 not served by other U.S. operators.

“Improving the connectivity of every Delta hub builds a stronger platform to take customers from all over the United States to destinations around the globe,” Glen Hauenstein, executive vice president of Network Planning and Revenue Management, said. “Each Delta hub has a unique role in the new Delta network, and we will continue to invest in the infrastructure to make each hub successful and ensure it is conveniently connected to the world.”

Conspicuous by its absence in the expansion list is Cincinnati. Delta said it is restructuring the hub to see if it can increase profitability. However, if it can’t, the airline will revisit whether to continue the hub in a year. In the meantime, capacity will decline 12 percent to 263 daily departures in January when Comair will furlough another 150 pilots adding them to the 330 pilots and flight attendants furloughed last month. The regional’s flying is expected to drop 33 percent in January from January ’08.

Locals clearly had been bracing for worse news given Cincinnati official’s reaction to the news. They responded by saying the cutbacks and restructuring was good news. The airline will drop service between CVG and Austin while reducing daily frequencies to Asheville, N.C., Columbus and Seattle. The number of daily banks will drop from nine to five and new schedules will be synchronized with Detroit to avoid duplication and complement hub strengths.

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