Delta cuts 10 routes as regional connectivity continues to suffer, but good news in NYC

Dec 20, 2021

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The route-map adjustments continue to hit small cities the hardest.

The latest move comes from Delta Air Lines, which is cutting 10 routes across its network, most of which were operated by its regional affiliates on short domestic hops.

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The cuts were first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed to TPG by a carrier spokesperson. A full table of the routes getting axed is below.

Origin Destination Operated by
Atlanta (ATL) Rochester, Minnesota (RST) Endeavor Air CRJ900
Boston (BOS) Bermuda (BDA) Delta A319
Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Lansing, Michigan (LAN) Endeavor Air CRJ200
Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Freeland, Michigan (MBS) Endeavor Air CRJ200
Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Tulsa (TUL) SkyWest E175
Salt Lake City (SLC) Cleveland (CLE) Delta Airbus A319/A320 mix
Salt Lake City (SLC) Columbus (CMH) Delta Airbus A319/A320 mix
Salt Lake City (SLC) Des Moines (DSM) SkyWest E175
Salt Lake City (SLC) Madison, Wisconsin (MSN) SkyWest E175
Salt Lake City (SLC) Pittsburgh (PIT) Delta Airbus A319

The cuts hit the airline’s Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Salt Lake City (SLC) hubs the hardest, with 70% of the affected services touching one of these airports.

Interestingly, this marks back-to-back weeks of big network cuts for Delta — both of which are focused on regional connectivity primarily from the MSP and SLC hubs. Last week, the Atlanta-based carrier dropped three U.S. cities from its network and slashed seven routes (six of which were from MSP and SLC).

In confirming the latest pulldown to TPG, a carrier spokesperson shared that “we continue to evaluate our network and make changes in line with customer demand, as we have throughout the pandemic.” It’s anyone’s guess if, or when, any of these routes make a comeback for Delta.

Delta’s latest route cuts (Map courtesy of Cirium)

As airlines look to rebuild their network, small U.S. cities continue to bear the brunt of the changes. Many regional airports don’t have the demand to warrant service right now, especially with the staffing shortages that airlines are facing.

Last month, United filed plans to pull out of 11 markets, nearly all of which were operated by regional partners. The Chicago-based airline cited a lack of demand and staffing shortages as the reasons for the route-map shake-up.

In a recent interview with TPG, United CEO Scott Kirby commented on the future of 50-seat regional jets. His perspective was that there may not be a future for serving some small markets due to unfavorable economics compounded by pilot shortages.

“We’re still debating what the long-term future of 50 seaters really is,” Kirby said. “The challenge is, do you want to serve places like Erie, Pennsylvania, at all, or Cody, Wyoming, or do those places just get cut off of the connectivity to the world?”

While Delta may be paring back some of its regional connectivity, it’s boosting service in another area of the country: the hotly contested New York market.

This week, the airline filed plans to bring back five seasonal summer routes from its New York/LaGuardia (LGA) hub, including flights operated by its Delta Connection regional affiliates to the following destinations.

Destination Operated by
Asheville, North Carolina (AVL) Republic Airways Embraer 175
Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM) Endeavor Air CRJ900
Nantucket (ACK) Endeavor Air CRJ900
Traverse City, Michigan (TVC) Endeavor Air CRJ900
Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) Republic Airways Embraer 175

The move comes on the heels of a big New York-focused expansion from American Airlines and JetBlue Airways, who’ve partnered together through the Northeast Alliance to become a formidable competitor against Delta and United in the Northeast.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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