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Delta adds new 4x daily LaGuardia to Dulles route, cuts 2 others

Sept. 12, 2022
4 min read
Delta adds new 4x daily LaGuardia to Dulles route, cuts 2 others
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Delta Air Lines‘ regional connectivity in New York is growing with a new route to the nation’s capital.

The Atlanta-based carrier filed plans over the weekend to launch service between LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Dulles International Airport (IAD), which is located more than 20 miles from Washington, D.C.

Service will operate on a four-times-daily basis beginning on Nov. 9, aboard a 76-seat Embraer 175 outfitted with 12 first-class recliners and 64 economy seats.

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Delta Connection partner Republic Airways will operate the route on behalf of the airline.

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This won’t be the first time that Delta has operated this route. The carrier last flew between the two airports back in 2014, Cirium schedules show.

Delta‘s new service to Dulles will compete head-to-head against United‘s existing connectivity between the two airports.

However, United’s service is designed quite differently from Delta’s.

Dulles is a major hub for United, so the airline can offer a plethora of connections for flyers headed to and from New York City’s most convenient airport.

Meanwhile, LaGuardia is one of Delta‘s hubs, so the airline can shuttle those based in the northern Virginia suburbs to LaGuardia to get to other destinations.

SKYHOBO/GETTY IMAGES

That said, Delta service from LaGuardia is largely limited to domestic destinations, many of which are available as nonstops with United.

Delta‘s new Dulles service will complement the existing “shuttle” route to the more convenient Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) for those looking to get to the capital. Delta already has more than 10 daily flights on this competitive, 214-mile route.

In fact, this new Delta LaGuardia route is reminiscent of another new one launched in recent weeks by Delta. That route connects LGA with Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Connecticut. At just 101 miles, it is the new shortest route from LaGuardia.

While the airline can certainly market one-stop connections in LaGuardia, many industry observers consider these short routes to be “slot squatting.”

In order to operate at the capacity-constrained LaGuardia, airlines need to hold slots — essentially permission to take off and land — which are administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

These valuable slots are usually use-it-or-lose-it, so if Delta was to cut or reduce the frequency on a route, it would run the risk of losing a valuable slot pair.

To avoid that, some industry insiders believe that these short regional routes are intended to “slot squat,” filling the schedule with lower-cost operations without giving up a valuable slot to a competitor.

It appears that United does a pretty good job of filling up its regional jets that shuttle between New York and IAD. The carrier operated with a nearly 85% and 73% load factor in 2019 and 2021, respectively, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data analyzed by Cirium.

That said, when Delta last operated this route in the early 2010s, it averaged around a 43% load factor, roughly half of United's during the same period, USDOT data shows.

While Delta is adding a new route from LaGuardia, the airline will make two cuts elsewhere in the network.

The airline will stop serving the Salt Lake City to Milwaukee market, a route it first suspended in July. Delta was planning to restart flights between these cities in December, but now that’s been scrapped entirely.

Additionally, Delta will drop service between Detroit and Monterrey, Mexico, on Oct. 14. At that time, the airline’s SkyTeam partner Aeromexico will pick up the route and continue serving the market with four-times-weekly service.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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