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Delta to add service from Los Angeles to Boise and Austin: Analysis

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Delta to add service from Los Angeles to Boise and Austin: Analysis

Delta to add service from Los Angeles to Boise and Austin: Analysis
February 27
13:00 2014

MIAMI — Delta Air Lines continues to grow its nascent hub at Los Angeles with two new routes for the summer of 2014. From June 5th, 2014 Delta will launch daily flights between Los Angeles and Boise using 76-seat Embraer E175 equipment ( 12F / 12Y+ / 52Y) with flight schedules as follow:

DL5820 –> LAX – BOI –> D: 1930 || A: 2235 –> E75 –> Daily
DL5818 –> BOI – LAX –> D: 0615 || A: 0715 –> E75 –> Daily

Meanwhile, beginning June 16, 2014, Delta will launch twice daily flights between Los Angeles and Austin using 110-seat Boeing 717-200 aircraft ( 12F / 15Y+ / 83Y ) with flight schedules as follow:

DL2570 –> LAX – AUS –> D: 0945 || A: 1440 –> 717 –> Daily
DL2572 –> LAX – AUS –> D: 1815 || A: 2330 –> 717 –> Daily

DL2569 –> AUS – LAX –> D: 0730 || A: 0825 –> 717 –> Daily
DL2571 –> AUS – LAX –> D: 1630 || A: 1745 –> 717 –> Daily

The Los Angeles – Boise route is clearly targeted at making Delta’s network more attractive to Los Angeles based frequent flyers. The current market is rather small, averaging 115.5 passengers per day each way (PDEW) worth of origin and destination (O&D) demand and an average fare of $216.45. United, who operates 76 seat Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft ( 6F / 70Y ) twice daily is the market leader with 46.7% of the O&D traffic and , while Southwest is the other airline of consequence

lax-boi-od-share

Los Angeles – Austin, meanwhile, is a much larger market though it is perhaps even more competitive, with a market size of 474 passengers per day each way and an average one way fare of $247.51. American Airlines is the market leader with 45.7% of the O&D traffic and 48.0% of the O&D revenue share, while Southwest comes in second at 35.3% and 31.5% respectively.

It is no accident that Southwest and American dominate this route given their strength on either end. Both carriers have large operations in Los Angeles, but Southwest is by far the largest carrier in Austin in terms of daily departures and passengers carried, while American has historically dominated business traffic in the rising tech capital thanks to its corporate travel contracts with local businesses like Whole Foods and Dell.

lax-aus-od-share

However, with the entrance of Delta onto the route and growth by American (up-gauging two of three daily flights from McDonnell Douglas MD-80s to Boeing 737-800s), things have devolved into an all out bloodbath. For Summer 2014, the route will see the following service (Summer 2013 in parentheses):

  1. American –> 3x 737-800 (2x MD-80, 1x 737-800)
  2. Southwest –> 1x 737-700, 1x 737-300 (No Change)
  3. United –> 2x CRJ-700 (No Change)
  4. Delta –> 2x 717-200 (N/A)

The chart below shows capacity shares for the route in Summer 2013 versus Summer 2014 – with year-over-year (YOY) growth of nearly 29.8% overall.

lax-aus-capacity-2013-vs-2014

The additions of Boise and Austin to Delta’s growing operation at Los Angeles mark just the latest step in the carrier’s expansion of its burgeoning hub. Quietly in the shadow of American’s more vocal buildup and United’s historical dominance in the market, Delta has built up an impressive operation in its own right.

In the Summer of 2014, Delta will now have an average of more than 146 daily departures serving 48 destinations around North America, Central America, Asia, and the South Pacific. Delta’s Summer 2014 operations at Los Angeles for the week of July 6th, 2014 are summarized below.

Destination Weekly Flights Destination Weekly Flights
Atlanta 87 Miami 6
Austin 14 Minneapolis/ St. Paul 48
Belize City 1 Missoula 1
Boise 7 Nashville 7
Boston 14 New Orleans 21
Bozeman 3 New York JFK 55
Cancun 7 Oakland 55
Cincinatti 14 Orlando 14
Columbus 7 Phoenix 35
Detroit 34 Portland 35
Guadalajara 7 Puerta Vallarta 7
Guatemala City 8 Raleigh/Durham 10
Honolulu 28 Sacramento 35
Indianapolis 7 Salt Lake City 49
Jackson Hole 6 San Diego 35
Maui 14 San Francisco 91
Kalispell 1 San Jose (CR) 7
Kansas City 14 San Jose (USA) 55
Kona 7 Seattle 49
Las Vegas 63 Spokane 7
Leon/Guanajuato 7 Sydney 7
Liberia 7 Tampa 10
Lihue 7 Tokyo Haneda 7
Memphis 6 Tokya Narita 7
TOTAL 1023

Looking forward, it is interesting to examine what routes are missing from Delta’s international route portfolio. Excluding international destinations, a list of the largest O&D markets from Los Angeles not currently served by Delta might provide a reasonable target list for additional service.

Keep in mind that Delta’s Los Angeles build up is aimed at winning away corporate market share from American and United, and implicit in that process is flying to the places Los Angeles-based customers want to go. So the following list of markets is instructive in considering the future of Delta’s growth in Los Angeles.

Currently, Delta does not serve 21 of the 50 largest domestic markets from Los Angeles (LAX only). Of these markets, Delta hasn’t entered some of the larger ones (such as Houston, Dallas Fort Worth, or Chicago) because these airports are all hubs for other legacies with strong operations at Los Angeles (United/Southwest, American, and United/American/Southwest respectively). However, as Delta continues to grow, expect to see them enter more of these competitive markets to improve their relevance to Los Angeles-based customers.

Assuming Delta wins the rights to the two gates at Dallas Love Field that are being divested by the new American Airlines, Delta will add five new daily flights to the Dallas metro area (using Embraer E175s). Service to Chicago O’Hare and Denver are essential to competitiveness, as is service to one of Houston Bush or Houston Hobby.

Newark is an interesting case because although it’s a huge market, Delta already has 8 daily flights to New York JFK, and American Airlines recently exited the route (which it had been serving for more than a decade) due to the capacity and fare war between Virgin America and United Airlines on the route.

Delta would likely be better served focusing on its JFK operations and using Philadelphia to bracket the New Jersey market which is uniquely tied to Newark. Service to one of Baltimore Washington or Washington Dulles (likely the latter) is also important, while St. Louis is another critical business destination. Fort Lauderdale is extremely low yielding and made redundant by Delta’s existing service to Miami.

Delta cannot serve Washington Reagan (no beyond-perimeter rights) though they could petition to move one of their twice daily Salt Lake City flights to Los Angeles (much in the same way that the new American petitioned to move its beyond perimeter slots from San Diego to Los Angeles), or New York La Guardia. Reno, Albuquerque, and Tucson all fit the pattern of Delta’s recent additions of high frequency regional jet service to important O&D destinations in the West. And Milwaukee is a traditional Delta stronghold (by way of Northwest and the “Heartland” strategy) while Cleveland is a market Delta is growing in to backfill some of the capacity lost in the wake of United’s de-hubbing.

Charlotte is likely too much of American stronghold for Delta to be able to support service. So all told, this list yields 12 new potential destinations as follow:

  1. Definite: Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Dallas Love, Houston Hobby OR Houston Bush, St. Louis
  2. Likely: Albuquerque, Reno, Tucson
  3. Potential: Cleveland, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles OR Baltimore Washington OR Washington Reagan

largest-unserved-lax-markets

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About Author

Vinay Bhaskara

Vinay Bhaskara

Senior Business Analyst, Big Airline Enthusiast, Avid Airport Connoisseur, Frequent Flyer, Globetrotter. I Miss Northwest Airlines Every Day. vinay@airwaysmag.com @TheABVinay

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