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Delta Air Lines 'committed' to new Boston hub; Austin, Raleigh focus cities

June 17, 2020
6 min read
Delta Air Lines 'committed' to new Boston hub; Austin, Raleigh focus cities
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Delta Air Lines is committed to returning to its coastal hubs and many of its focus cities as it begins what is expected to be a multi-year rebuilding of the airline's route map.

The Atlanta-based carrier will return to its hubs in Boston (BOS) — its newest hub — Los Angeles (LAX), New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA), and Seattle (SEA) as it resumes flying, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told staff at a virtual town hall on Wednesday that was viewed by TPG. Delta is also committed to returning to its Austin (AUS) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU) focus cities.

"We’re committed to New York, we’re committed to Boston, we’re committed to LA, Seattle, Austin [and] Raleigh," he said. "All the places we’ve made big investments in, we’re coming back."

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Bastian's comments came after he told staff that Delta only plans to fly about half of what it flew in the U.S. domestic market at the end of 2019 by the end of this year. The resumption in international flying is likely to be about a year behind that, he added.

A halved Delta would fly around 72,600 domestic flights in December, based on 2019 numbers, according to Cirium schedule data. That's about double the nearly 38,800 flights it has scheduled in June when it only plans to fly about a quarter of what it flew last year.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the forecasts for this fall and winter. While leisure travelers are returning in notable numbers this summer, business travel has not returned in any meaningful way. Holiday travel traditionally slows down after Labor Day, potentially leaving a big gap in the market if corporate flying does not pick up.

Related: Airlines may face a tough fall after that summer uptick

“It really is [that] there is just so much unknown," Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth told TPG this week. "Airlines are putting the cash cushion in and hoping for the best.”

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Delta has already begun building back its core hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) and Salt Lake City (SLC). These bases allow the airline to provide travelers with connectivity across its network — even with numerous cities suspended — regardless of where they are coming from or going to.

The carrier's coastal hubs and focus cities have been slower to return, largely due to less local demand for air travel, Bastian told staff. However, as demand returns these bases will return as well.

Related: Delta sending Airbus A350s to Los Angeles, will close Cincinnati pilot base

Delta's focus cities in Cincinnati (CVG), Nashville (BNA) and San Jose, California (SJC), were absent from Bastian's remarks. While Nashville and San Jose are among its newest and least-developed bases, the exclusion of Cincinnati may hint at what many have long expected: that Delta plans to downsize the former hub to just a point on its map.

The airline has already said it will close its Cincinnati pilot base by the end of the year. In addition, it is considering closing its cabin crew base at the airport as well.

Cincinnati was among Delta's earliest hubs when the airline created it in 1981. The operation has shrunk since peaking in 2005, a shift that was accelerated by the addition of relatively nearby Detroit as a hub following the airline's merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008.

Related: Delta Air Lines will shrink its European footprint, may close crew bases after coronavirus

Featured image by Boston Globe via Getty Images

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Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

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  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
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  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
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  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees