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Delta adds 3 new NYC routes as it shifts regional focus from Detroit

Oct. 31, 2022
5 min read
Delta adds 3 new NYC routes as it shifts regional focus from Detroit
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New York City is getting three new nonstop routes thanks to Delta Air Lines' latest schedule adjustment.

Delta, which operates a hub at both the LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), will add service to three nearby regional markets as of Jan. 9, 2023, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the carrier.

Specifically, the airline will add:

  • LGA — Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM)
  • LGA — University Park Airport (SCE)
  • JFK — Ithaca Tompkins International Airport (ITH)
COURTESY CIRIUM

All three routes will be flown up to twice daily through the end of the schedule (with some weekend days only operating on a once-daily frequency). Delta Connection affiliate Endeavor Air will operate each route using a 76-seat CRJ-900 aircraft.

For Delta, the new routes are essentially a zero-sum game. That's because the airline will cut its current service to all three aforementioned regional markets from its hub at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) as of Jan. 9, 2023.

It is worth mentioning that the New York service will be operated up to twice daily, whereas the Detroit flights were only flown once a day on smaller aircraft.

This shift in regional connectivity might be good news for (the few) New Yorkers looking to fly to Binghamton, Ithaca or State College, and it also helps Delta boost its range of connecting options for travelers headed to one of these cities from other places that have nonstop service to New York City.

Of course, it'll deal a blow for those trying to connect from these three markets to places further west in the country. Now, they'll need to overfly these cities to connect in New York if they plan to fly with Delta.

In a statement, Delta shared that "we continue to monitor and adjust our schedules based on demand and to best meet the needs of our customers."

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ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

For Delta, these routes represent the latest boosts in regional connectivity from New York. Earlier this year, the airline added the shortest flight from LaGuardia — to Hartford — which comes in at just 101 miles. Last month, the airline unveiled a new four-times-daily service between LaGuardia and Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, D.C.

While Delta can certainly market these new flights to locals and some connections, many aviation observers consider these short routes "slot squatting."

In order to operate at the capacity-constrained LaGuardia and JFK Airports, airlines need to hold takeoff and landing permissions from the Federal Aviation Administration. These permissions, known as slots, are usually use-it-or-lose-it, meaning that if Delta weren't able to fill its entire slot schedule, then it would risk losing a valuable slot to one of its competitors.

To avoid that, some industry insiders believe that these short regional routes are intended to “slot squat,” filling the schedule with lower-cost regional operations without giving up a valuable slot to a competitor.

Earlier in the pandemic, airlines received slot waivers that allowed them to cut flights without the risk of losing these valuable assets. But, these temporary waivers are now history.

With all the increased regional connectivity from New York, Delta seems to be actively monitoring its slot usage to ensure that it maintains its dominance as New York's largest airline.

Of course, it's possible that Delta is slowly shifting its New York strategy with the addition of all these regional flights. While the New York City market has primarily been one focused on origin and destination (O&D) traffic, perhaps the airline sees value in connecting passengers through the region.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

That's something United does well in nearby Newark, where it operates a hub with plenty of nonstop service for locals, as well as a comprehensive regional network that offers connections for flyers looking to head to and from places like Albany and Scranton.

That said, many of these new Delta routes aren't necessarily driven by demand. After all, the drive to many of these cities can take just a few hours. After factoring in time for security, the walk to your gate and a possible air traffic control delay, it's likely faster for some to simply drive from New York to Binghamton, Ithaca or State College than it is to fly.

As Delta is seemingly doing whatever it takes to keep its slots, perhaps the biggest losers are locals who would prefer increased competition in the market (and therefore likely lower fares). If these slots were instead reallocated to a competitor airline, odds are that Binghamton, Ithaca and State College wouldn't be the first three destinations to launch on other airlines.

Just ask United, the airline that officially pulled out of JFK once again on Oct. 29, due to none other than a lack of slots.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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