INDIANAPOLIS — Delta Air Lines will launch nonstop service from Indianapolis to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on May 24, 2018, becoming the first carrier to offer a nonstop trans-Atlantic flight from Indianapolis. The new daily nonstop service will be flown by a Boeing 767-300ER seating 225 passengers (25J / 29Y+ / 171 Y) and will go on sale September 23, 2017.
Delta 500 will depart Indianapolis each day at 6:20 pm, arriving in Paris the next morning at 8:45 am. The return flight from Paris, Delta 501, will leave Charles de Gaulle at 1:15 pm, arriving back in Indianapolis at 4:35 pm the next day.
The route marks Delta’s fourth non-hub nonstop route from CDG, joining Newark, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. It also flies from Amsterdam to Newark, Portland, and (soon) Orlando.
However, due to the carriers joint venture (JV) partnership with Air France-KLM for flights across the Atlantic, it can draw directly on the massive Air France hub at CDG (and KLM hub at Amsterdam) for feed and onward connections.
Delta has been the strongest network carrier in the Indianapolis market since the days of pre-merger Northwest Airlines which considered Indianapolis a part of its “heartland” and at times a focus city. Today Indianapolis hovers between 35 and 40 peak-day departures for Delta, with service to 13 destinations (including non-hub flying to Cancun, Orlando, Fort Myers, and Miami). But it is one Delta’s strongest non-hub markets, particularly for business travel.
While some of the impetus to launch this nonstop service from Indianapolis is to strengthen the Paris hub further, the timing of the announcement is not an accident. Recently announced growth by European ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs) WOW air and Norwegian have added nonstop service from Europe to Austin, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis amongst others.
These kinds of midsize markets have historically been a cash cow for legacy carriers on long haul flights in the US, as they lacked nonstop competition from foreign carriers. But the rise of Norwegian and WOW air changes that equation.
With low-cost options available for travelers in these cities, the legacy carriers will face an increasingly difficult choice. They may well need to continue adding nonstop service from secondary markets of strength. But in doing so, they will cannibalize nonstop service at their own hubs.