Delta finally launches transatlantic flights from Salt Lake City

Governor Jon Huntsman, Mayor Ralph Becker and Mayor Peter Corroon join Delta Air Lines’ flight crew and local manager, Brett Rydalch, to launch Salt Lake City’s first non-stop transoceanic flight.
Governor Jon Huntsman, Mayor Ralph Becker and Mayor Peter Corroon join Delta Air Lines’ flight crew and local manager, Brett Rydalch, to launch Salt Lake City’s first non-stop transoceanic flight.

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Utah is Delta’s second largest hub, though in terms of flights it is barely a quarter of the size of its main hub at Atlanta. Last year Delta and its partner SkyWest (operating flights as Delta Connection) carried around 15.5 million passengers through SLC, representing around 70% of all the airport’s passengers.

Chart: Salt Lake City airport traffic 2001 - 2007
Source: www.slcairport.com

Delta has used SkyWest to operate an increasing number of services on its behalf, especially since 2001. The second biggest carrier at SLC is Southwest, whose market share of total traffic at the airport has barely risen this decade.

International routes to Canada, Mexico and now France

Image: Delta AirlinesDelta operates a total of 107 routes from SLC of which 96 are domestic destinations including two new routes started this week by SkyWest to Gillette and Rock Springs in Wyoming. A further six are to Mexico (Cancun, Guadalajara, Mazatlan, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Cabo), four are to Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver) and since 2 June the airline has also operated daily non-stop transatlantic flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle. This new service is operated by a 767-300. By serving Paris Delta can take advantage of connecting traffic provided by fellow SkyTeam member Air France.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Number of routes
Delta 75.9% 68.3% 107
Southwest 11.5% 16.7% 15
United 3.7% 3.2% 4 (DEN, LAX, ORD, SFO)
JetBlue 1.5% 2.4% 6 (BUR, JFK, LAS, LGB, SAN, SFO)
American 1.6% 2.3% 2 (DFW, ORD)
Frontier 1.6% 2.3% 1 (DEN)
US Airways 1.9% 2.2% 2 (LAS, PHX)
Northwest 1.2% 1.4% 2 (DTW, MSP)
Continental 1.2% 1.1% 2 (EWR, IAH)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 July 2008

According to OAG data the most competitive routes are to Denver and Las Vegas where Delta competes with three other carriers. Frontier, United and Southwest all compete on the Denver route, while JetBlue, Southwest and US Airways all compete for passengers to and from Las Vegas. Southwest competes head-to-head with Delta on 14 of its 15 routes with only Chicago Midway a monopoly (though Delta, United and American all fly to Chicago O’Hare).

JetBlue has started four of its six routes at SLC in the last year. The city is of special significance to JetBlue’s former CEO David Neeleman as it was where he started his first airline, Morris Air.

A number of Delta services from SLC are currently operated by ExpressJet using ERJ145s. Last week the two airlines mutually agreed to terminate all ExpressJet Delta Connection operations from 1 September 2008. However, Delta has indicated that all of ExpressJet’s SLC flights will be awarded to another Delta Connection carrier, resulting in no service losses.

Image: Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas Mattson; Humboldt County Supervisor Bonnie Neely; Airports Manager Jacquelyn Hulsey; Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolly; and Delta Executive Stephen Hedden celebrate the launch of Delta services from Salt Lake City to Arcata/Eureka (located in Humboldt County, Northern California) on 5 June.
Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas Mattson; Humboldt County Supervisor Bonnie Neely; Airports Manager Jacquelyn Hulsey; Humboldt County Supervisor John Woolly; and Delta Executive Stephen Hedden celebrate the launch of Delta services from Salt Lake City to Arcata/Eureka (located in Humboldt County, Northern California) on 5 June.

Fares slightly above average

According to US DOT data, average fares from SLC are about average for short-haul services but above average for long-haul services. The existence of Southwest in the market is presumably preventing Salt Lake City turning into a second Cincinnati. In longer-haul markets where Southwest is less prominent, SLC’s fares are between 10% and 15% above the national average on a sector length adjusted basis.

Period Fare Premium
All Markets
Fare Premium
Short-Haul
Fare Premium
Long-Haul
2007 Q1 +8% +1% +14%
2007 Q2 +5% -1% +11%
2007 Q3 +8% +0% +14%
2007 Q4 +5.3% -1.9% +11.5%
Source: US DOT Office of Aviation Analysis

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