MIAMI — Delta has announced new flights to Latin America, including two new daily flights into Leon, Mexico, and a second daily flight between Atlanta and Sao Paulo, continuing its growth into Latin America. The airline will launch daily flights from its hubs at Atlanta and Los Angeles to El Bajio International Airport in Leon from December 19th and December 3rd, 2014 respectively. The flights will be served using Delta’s 76 seat Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft (12F / 12Y+ / 52Y) operated by SkyWest. Separately, Delta is adding a second daily flight between Atlanta and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The second daily flight will commence March 1st, 2014 using Delta’s 210 seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (35J / 32Y+ / 143Y) featuring flatbeds in the BusinessElite cabin. The flight schedules for the new routes are as follow:

Flight Route Depart Arrive Aircraft
DL 59 ATL – GRU 2225 0950+1 76W
DL 58 GRU – ATL 0025 0915 76W
DL 4532 BJX – LAX 0839 1015 CR9
DL 4535 LAX – BJX 1130 1648 CR9
DL 5497 ATL – BJX 1055 1359 CR9
DL 5497 BJX – ATL 1440 1855 CR9

With the new Sao Paulo flight, Delta is up to six daily flights into Brazil (four to Sao Paulo [2x Atlanta, 1x Detroit/New York JFK] and one each to Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro). This pales in comparison to market leaders American and TAM, but it does place Delta in a solid third place footing ahead of United.

Meanwhile, the new flights to Leon are notable chiefly because of the Los Angeles add. If you think back to the last time Delta built up Los Angeles (in the mid 2000s preceding the global financial crisis), much of the growth was into these types of smaller Central American markets. Of course, Delta is in better shape financially than the last time around, and the cadre of its latest round of expansion in Los Angeles is different. Delta is much more focused on building into core business and frequent flyer markets from LA, but at the same time, these types of high volume leisure markets are important to winning over independent frequent flyers.

The combination of the two routes also serve to highlight the excellent performance of the US – Latin America market for Delta. Its most recent September traffic results noted that Latin American PRASM (unit revenues) grew at a robust rate in supporting the September figure of 5.5% growth. With the trans-Atlantic market weakened by the poor European macro-economy and the trans-Pacific market struggling to digest the tremendous capacity growth from Asian carriers, Latin America’s stature as an international profit center will only grow in the networks of US carriers. When combined with Delta’s equity investments into the region (Gol, Aeromexico, Aerolineas Argentinas), the new routes help illustrate the push that Delta is making in the region – secondary to the West Coast of the US – but a push nontheless