Delta has officially loaded its schedule for its Memphis operations, which will no longer be considered a hub for the airline after September 3, 2013, as reported last week.
Memphis currently offers 93 daily departures to 49 cities across the U.S., and a weekly seasonal flight to Cancun, via Delta mainline and its regional airlines.
As part of the de-hubbing and downsizing, Delta will cancel 10 year-round routes out of Memphis and reduce operations on another 10. These are the following routes that will be affected:
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Fayetteville, AR
- Jackson, MS
- Knoxville, TN
- Little Rock, AR
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Omaha, NE
- Shreveport, LA
- St. Louis, MO
- Tulsa, OK
- Austin, TX (2 > 1 daily, CRJ)
- Columbus, OH (2 > 1 daily, ERJ)
- Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX (3 > 2 daily, CRJ)
- Houston, TX (3 > 2 daily, CRJ)
- Indianapolis, IN (3 > 2 daily, CRJ and ERJ)
- Kansas City, MO (2 > 1 daily, CRJ)
- Milwaukee, WI (2 > 1 daily, CRJ)
- Nashville, TN (2 > 1 daily, CRJ)
- San Antonio, TX (2 > 1 daily, CRJ)
- Washington Reagan, D.C. (3 > 2 daily, CR9)
My guess is that Delta will also not be resuming its summer-seasonal flights to Cancun, Phoenix nor Seattle, although the status on those flights will become more known once Delta loads is Summer 2014 schedule into the GDS.
- Atlanta, GA (10x M88)
- Cincinnati, OH (3x CRJ)
- Detroit, MI (2x CR7, 1x CR9, 1x 319, 1x M88)
- Minneapolis, MN (1x CR9, 1x 319, 1x 320)
- New York, NY (LGA) (2x CR7, 1x 320)
- Salt Lake City, UT (1x CR9, 2x 320)
Non-hub route frequencies:
- Boston, MA (1x CR9)
- Charlotte, NC (2x CRJ, 1x CR9)
- Chicago, IL (ORD) (2x CRJ, 1x CR9)
- Denver, CO (1x CR9)
- Las Vegas, NV (1x 320)
- Los Angeles, CA (2x 320)
- Louisville, KY (1x ERJ)
- New Orleans, LA (3x CRJ)
- Orlando, FL (1x 320)
- Philadelphia, PA (1x CR7, 1x CR9)
- Pittsburgh, PA (1x CRJ, 1x ERJ)
- Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (1x CRJ, 1x ERJ)
- Tampa, FL (1x 320)
Analysis and observations
Looking at all of this data together, the picture really isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. Delta will still maintain nonstop service from Memphis to 29 cities, all major US markets with the possible exceptions of Seattle, St. Louis, San Francisco, Portland, Phoenix, Miami/South Florida, and Jacksonville. The airline will still offer 22 daily mainline flights (even though a little less than half of them are to Atlanta) and at minimum, 3 daily nonstop flights to six other Delta hubs, providing MEM travelers easy connection options to Delta’s systemwide network.
Moreover, Delta is maintaining more than a single daily flights to 11 non-hub markets, which is pretty significant. As someone who grew up in Dallas and lived through the Delta de-hubbing process at DFW, which took place in 2005, I would argue that Delta is treating Memphis MUCH more generously than they did to my hometown back in the day.
Now, granted, that was a different time and era (the DFW decision was made in light of an impending bankruptcy whereas MEM is simply unprofitable, redundant, and affected by a nearby hub and fleet-phaseout program). DFW also didn’t necessarily “need” to maintain links to cities like LAX, TPA, BOS, DEN etc. because we already had a hub carrier via American. I can see the logic behind Delta maintaining a single daily flight from Memphis to Las Vegas, for instance, because no other carrier presently flies this route, and Delta can enjoy a monopoly on this segment even though it now considers it a “point-to-point” leg between spokes in its network.
One final thought is what is going to happen to Delta’s Cincinnati hub – will it suffer a similar fate as Memphis?
My response to that is that I don’t think that Memphis is necessarily “suffering” from much “fate” since it is only losing service to 10 markets and seeing frequency reductions to another 10. That is consistent with the schedule reduction of ~90 daily flights to ~60, or a third of its current volume.
Truthfully, the reductions at MEM have been “phased-in” in waves over the course of two years now, and the situation has been somewhat similar at CVG, so it should come as no surprise if Delta makes similar alterations at Cincinatti in the upcoming months. The only real “casualty” here is that the hubs are just losing the label of being a “hub,” which is really somewhat meaningless in the grand scheme of things. If they weren’t really “hubs” to begin with, offering 1-3 daily flights to large scale cities, and eliminating nonstop service to the smaller regional-tier cities, they’re really not much more than just a focus operation.
For example, say I live in Columbus, OH and I want to fly to San Antonio. If I have some interior knowledge of the industry, right off the bat, I’m not going to assume the best routing option (if it requires a connection) will be via MEM, given the fact that there is a single daily flight from Columbus and two daily flights to San Antonio. Rather, I’m going to gravitate towards other Delta “hubs” that I know truly exist in Detroit, Atlanta or elsewhere.
Returning to the Cincy discussion, I would venture to say that Cincinnati will also likely retain a similar network in size, but with a sincerely reduced schedule. Small and medium-tier markets will definitely lose nonstop service. I’ve heard through the vine that Delta maintains its long-haul flight from CVG to Amsterdam thanks to corporate contracts with companies like Proctor & Gamble, so those should be safe as long as the contracts are maintained. American Airlines still retained its nonstop flight to London Heathrow from Raleigh-Durham, even after it de-hubbed RDU back in the 90’s, thanks to a contract with the Research-Triangle in the Carolinas.
I’ll be keeping watch over CVG in the upcoming months, and curious to know if Delta finds success in the revamped MEM station. Also watch-worthy will be the impact of LCC entrants into MEM (such as Southwest) and how the market will change as a result.