The growth in post-pandemic traffic at major Northeastern airports has been explosive, and Delta Air Lines’ operations in Charlotte have benefited.
This month, Delta stepped up service to Charlotte from Boston Logan, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.
Delta has long been the second-largest carrier at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with single-digit market share over American’s 91%, so its growth is more of an irritant than a threat.
Nonetheless, Delta’s most recent upgrades in service to Boston and New York mean the carrier offers sufficient frequencies to attract business travelers, who may be time sensitive, even though Delta uses regional jets on the routes. routes while American generally uses main jets.
Regarding New York, Delta said last week that by November, it will increase to about 100 departures from New York. This means that Delta will operate over 400 combined daily departures from LaGuardia and JFK.
In Boston, Delta increased its schedule so that this month it became Boston’s largest carrier in terms of departures, overtaking JetBlue. Delta will have 3,140 departures in October, compared to 3,074 for JetBlue, according to Cirium.
On October 4, Delta added three daily Boston-CLT flights, using E175 aircraft. The market already had nine daily departures from the United States and two on JetBlue. (Despite the Northeast Alliance codeshare agreement, American and Jet Blue do not share codes on this route, where they compete.)
For New York / Charlotte service this month, Delta will increase the daily departures from La Guardia-CLT from five to seven, while increasing the daily Kennedy-CLT departures from three to five. All planes are regional jets, including CRJ 900s and Embraer 175s, flown by Republic Airways.
Delta’s relative strength in Charlotte is largely a result of its proximity to its Atlanta hub, located just 225 air miles away. Eight Boeing 7171 flights depart for Atlanta daily, and Delta has gradually added services to its other hubs. Besides Atlanta, it now serves Boston, Detroit, LaGuardia, Kenney, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
Airport statistics show how quickly Northeast service has rebounded this summer.
At JFK in July, the number of passengers was 3.6 million, up 465% from July 2020, according to the New York Pork Authority. At LaGuardia, in July, the number of passengers was 1.7 million, up 371%. In Newark, the number of passengers was 3 million, up 308%. In Charlotte, where American has kept operations at a high level throughout the pandemic, the July number was 2.2 million, up 121%.
At Boston Logan, the number of passengers in September was also 2.2 million, up 252% from September 2020.
Another sign of expanding service at Northeastern airports came on Tuesday, when United announced that starting October 31, it would launch a nearly hourly shuttle service between Newark and Washington National and add five new ones. flights between LaGuardia and Dulles. In total, United will operate 32 daily flights between New York and Washington airports.
Aviation consultant Bob Mann said Delta and United were increasing flights to protect hubs from competitors, which could also boost flights, leading to congestion.
Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration extended until March 26, 2022, its waiver of slots to be used or lost at congested JFK, LGA and DCA airports. “These hub protection measures coincide with the FAA not extending the rule,” Mann said, adding that “there is a similar exemption for Newark.”
Mann said New York airports are enjoying “a welcome return to the markets.” He said Delta’s expansion allows the carrier to serve most of New York’s major markets, which “will likely include someone else’s hubs,” including Charlotte.