Delta cuts 3 long-haul routes in latest network adjustment 

Oct 20, 2021

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Several Delta routes are falling victim to the pandemic.

Over the weekend, the Atlanta-based carrier removed all scheduled flights on the three following long-haul routes, as first seen in Cirium timetables.

The airline later confirmed to TPG that these routes are being cut for the foreseeable future, with no current plans to bring them back.

  • Atlanta (ATL) — Stuttgart (STR)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Shanghai (PVG)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC) — London (LHR)

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Note that these routes could theoretically return in the coming years depending on the outcome of the pandemic, but it’s anyone’s guess if, or when, that would happen.

Service from Atlanta to Stuttgart connected Porsche’s German headquarters with its main offices in Atlanta.

While some high-ranking executives at the car manufacturer may be upset to see the route go, Delta likely couldn’t turn a profit on the route without a steady stream of business travelers crossing the pond. Still, Porsche and Delta remain tied with a partnership that includes a fleet of its high-end cars for tarmac transfers in hub airports for top-tier Medallion members, celebrities and other dignitaries.

 

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Similarly, Delta’s Salt Lake City to London route was likely one of the airline’s poor performers. The airline already serves Heathrow from Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New York-JFK, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle, according to Cirium schedules.

SkyTeam flyers based on the West Coast can connect through Delta’s Seattle, Detroit or Minneapolis/St. Paul hubs to get to London, or they can fly through Amsterdam or Paris, both of which will still be served by Delta nonstops from Salt Lake City.

As for Los Angeles to Shanghai, two airlines will continue to fly the route, with flights on China Eastern and United (once the pandemic restrictions ease). The former is a SkyTeam partner of which Delta owns an equity stake, so the airline can still route its California-based flyers on this route.

Plus, with China (and the broader region) closed to foreigners for the foreseeable future, it seemingly makes sense for Delta to pull out of the market than operate it at a loss.

The airline will continue to serve Shanghai from Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle.

Interestingly, American Airlines recently cut its Los Angeles to Shanghai route as well, and instead moved the service to its up-and-coming Oneworld hub in Seattle.

At the time, Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja explained that the Los Angeles to Asia market is already saturated with routes by nearly every Asian carrier, making the move to Seattle a competitive advantage for the airline and its renewed domestic partnership with Alaska Airlines.

Delta is seemingly feeling the same way — the Los Angeles to Asia market was extremely competitive before the pandemic. It can still serve its Los Angeles-based flyers through its China Eastern partnership while continuing to fly its own metal to Shanghai from other U.S. cities, including Seattle.

While Delta is trimming a small portion of its long-haul network, it’s also gearing up to launch some exciting new transatlantic service next summer.

As part of the recently announced Boston expansion, the airline is adding five high-profile routes from the city, including two new long-haul flights to Athens and Tel Aviv.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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