Delta drops 3 US cities, cuts 7 routes in network shake-up

Dec 12, 2021

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

The latest cuts come from Delta, which is pulling seven routes and dropping 3 cities from its network.

The pull-down is largely focused on regional connectivity. Delta Connection partner SkyWest Airlines historically operated six of the seven routes getting axed.

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You’ll find the full list of route cuts below, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Origin Destination Notes
Detroit (DTW) La Crosse, Wisconsin (LSE)
Minneapolis–Saint Paul (MSP) Great Falls, Montana (GTF)
Minneapolis–Saint Paul (MSP) Lincoln, Nebraska (LNK) Market exit
Minneapolis–Saint Paul (MSP) Marquette County, Michigan (MQT)
Salt Lake City (SLC) Cody, Wyoming (COD) Market exit
Salt Lake City (SLC) Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT) Market exit
Salt Lake City (SLC) Indianapolis, Indiana (IND)

The headline is that three small U.S. cities are losing Delta service entirely. Flights to Grand Junction (GJT) and Lincoln (LNK) will end on Jan. 9, 2022, while seasonal service to Cody (COD) has been suspended since October 2021.

A carrier spokesperson shared the following statement confirming the move.

Due to ongoing travel demand impact from the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to suspend Delta Connection service to these markets. We are working to reaccommodate customers with alternate plans or offer refunds as quickly as possible. We are grateful to all who supported this service throughout the years.

The unused regional aircraft will be redeployed for service to cities with greater demand.

Map of Delta’s route cuts, with blue lines indicating market exits (Map courtesy of Cirium)

Of the three markets getting cut, perhaps the most interesting backstory is the one associated with Cody, Wyoming.

This small city qualifies as an Essential Air Service (EAS) market, meaning that the federal government provides subsidies to a chosen airline to guarantee service to this city.

United Express holds the EAS contract in Cody through May 31, 2022. Delta’s service wasn’t subsidized by the government, and it likely wasn’t operating profitably.

Notably, Delta will continue to serve the four other airports that are losing routes with flights from other hubs. SkyWest will continue serving Great Falls (GTF) via SLC, La Crosse (LSE) via MSP and Marquette (MQT) via DTW. (Delta serves Indianapolis from multiple U.S. hubs.)

Delta’s cuts are the latest to hit small U.S. cities.

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.

While Delta pares back its domestic network, the airline is bullish on the return of transatlantic travel next summer.

This week, the airline also filed plans to return to the New York-JFK to Stockholm (ARN) market, with daily seasonal service starting on June 1. The carrier last operated the route five years ago, according to Cirium schedules.

Adding Stockholm to its 2022 route map translates to an over 100% capacity increase on European routes relative to summer 2021. In total, Delta plans to operate up to 70 daily flights from 21 destinations in Europe to 10 U.S. airports next summer.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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