Delta Air Lines is cutting 6 routes amid pandemic-era network rebuild

Jul 23, 2021

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The pandemic is already having a lasting change on airline route maps.

Every U.S. carrier has adjusted its network strategy over the past year. Some have beefed up service to existing leisure destinations, and others are growing with new dots to their route map.

For Delta, there’s largely been a focus on the former: the airline has added new service to Alaska, as well as to various leisure spots on the East Coast, including Hilton Head, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Asheville, North Carolina, and more.

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But there’s also been a steady stream of cuts that haven’t individually made the headlines, but — together — fit the larger trend of airlines using the pandemic as the impetus to cut poor-performing routes.

In Delta’s case, the airline has cut the following six routes from its schedules in the past four weeks, as first seen in Cirium timetables and later confirmed directly by the airline.

Origin Destination
Los Angeles (LAX) Fresno (FAT)
Los Angeles (LAX) Palm Springs (PSP)
Minneapolis−St. Paul (MSP) Traverse City (TVC)
New York/LaGuardia (LGA) Lexington (LEX)
Raleigh-Durham (RDU) Jacksonville (JAX)
Raleigh-Durham (RDU) Cancun (CUN)

Of all five domestic routes getting axed, four of them ranked in the bottom 25% of estimated profitability across the entire Delta network, according to an analysis of publicly available Department of Transportation data by Cirium.

The only route that fared a bit better was New York/LaGuardia to Lexington, which came in the bottom 50% of estimated profitability.

As Delta looks to rebuild its network, it’s no surprise that the bottom performers would get scrapped. While the airline didn’t have particular details to share with TPG, the airline noted that it’s continually making schedule adjustments in line with projected demand.

Perhaps more interesting is that Raleigh-Durham (RDU) is losing two routes. Before the pandemic, the Research Triangle area was one of Delta’s five focus cities, and despite the coronavirus, RDU will be one of the two to survive the crisis. (The other being Austin.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While Delta’s in it for the long haul at RDU, the airline is seemingly looking to operate a leaner operation.

In fact, this isn’t the first time that Delta has cut routes during the pandemic.

In April, the Atlanta-based carrier slashed four flights from its Minneapolis−St. Paul (MSP) hub, including service to Norfolk (ORF), Rochester (ROC), Aruba (AUA) and St. Thomas (STT), along with two other routes that touch one of the airline’s other hubs.

In early February, Delta cut nine routes and added seven others in a broader network shakeup.

Delta isn’t the only carrier trimming its route map. Earlier this week, United announced plans to close up shop at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, as it consolidates its operation to the Seattle-Tacoma international airport.

In mid-June, JetBlue quietly filed a massive network adjustment, cutting a whopping 27 routes, many of which were only added during the pandemic. Raleigh-Durham flying took a big hit, in addition to leisure-focused Florida routes and service to Pittsburgh, too.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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