Delta’s Detroit base serves 142 destinations; Amsterdam busiest international route

Image: New year and a new dominant carrier in Detroit
A new year and a new dominant carrier in Detroit: With the full Delta/Northwest merger now complete, the old Northwest hub in Detroit has become Delta-dominated providing over 80% of the airport’s capacity.

Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan was the 13th busiest US airport in 2008, handling just over 35 million passengers. With the local car industry suffering significantly during the current economic downturn, passenger numbers through the airport were down around 11% in 2009 bringing total traffic levels back to where they were in the late 90s. Closer inspection of the figures for the first 10 months of 2009 reveals that domestic traffic is down 10% while international traffic is down by 25%. Airport traffic peaked in 2005 with 36.4 million passengers.

Chart: Detroit airport traffic 1995-2009 - Annual passengers (millions)
Source: Metro Airport

Delta is now the dominant airline at the airport (having taken over Northwest last year) and this winter serves a total of 142 non-stop destinations (including 21 international points) in co-operation with its various regional subsidiaries and partners, including Comair, Compass Airlines, Mesaba and Pinnacle Airlines.

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Non-stop destinations
Delta 82.7% 80.2% 142
Southwest 2.7% 4.0% 5
Spirit Air 2.1% 3.4% 6
US Airways 3.2% 3.3% 4
American Airlines 3.1% 3.0% 4
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 11 January 2010

Among the 21 international destinations served by Delta are five points in Canada and five in Mexico. In addition to various Caribbean destinations, the airline’s long-haul network currently consists of Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London Heathrow in Europe and Nagoya, Shanghai and Tokyo Narita in Asia.

Seven domestic routes served at least seven times daily

Analysis of schedule data reveals that the Delta’s Atlanta hub is the leading route on the airline from Detroit both in terms of frequency and capacity. A total of seven destinations are served with at least 50 weekly departures. Among the top 11 destinations (by frequency) are three intra-state routes to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Saginaw.

Chart: Delta’s top 11 routes from Detroit Weekly departures and average aircraft size (in brackets)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 11 January 2010

The leading international destinations in terms of frequency are Toronto (34 weekly departures) and Montreal (26 weekly departures). However, in terms of seat capacity the airline’s thrice-daily flights to partner KLM’s Amsterdam hub lead the way.

Shanghai added; London Gatwick and Osaka Kansai dropped

Image: Services to Shanghai Pu Dong started in June last year.
Services to Shanghai Pu Dong started in June last year. At the launch, 747s (new to Delta) were used four times weekly, but this has since been changed to five times weekly on 777s. The only routes out of Detroit that Delta now operates with 747s are to Japan; to Nagoya and its Tokyo Narita hub.

During the last 12 months, Delta/Northwest has made a number of changes to its Detroit route network. A total of five new destinations have been started including seasonal international flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and year-round flights to Shanghai.

Destination (code) Date started Current WF Aircraft type
Sioux Falls (FSD) 2 May 2009 7 CRJ
Santa Ana (SNA) 2 May 2009 6 A319
Shanghai (PVG) 1 June 2009 5 B777
La Crosse (LSE) 4 June 2009 7 CRJ
Punta Cana (PUJ) 21 November 2009 2 A320
Source: Airline news and timetable

A comparison of OAG data for January 2009 and January 2010 reveals that several destinations appear to have been dropped by the airline from Detroit. These are domestic routes to Latrobe (LBE), Shreveport (SHV), Springfield (SGF), Tri-Cities (TRI) and Wichita (ICT), as well as international services to Kitchener (YKF) in Canada, London Gatwick (LGW), and Osaka Kansai (KIX), as well as Taipei which was served via Osaka.

In addition, there has been frequency rationalisation on routes to the Delta hubs in Atlanta and Cincinnati, while its own Paris CDG service no longer operates in winter, leaving the route clear for SkyTeam partner Air France to operate the route without competition.

Two new Asian routes starting this summer

Network developments for this year include a new daily service to Portland (Oregon) starting on 1 March and thrice-weekly flights to Honolulu starting on 2 June. Also starting at the beginning of June are two new non-stop routes to Asia, with both Hong Kong and Seoul being served five-times weekly using 777-200s. At the same time, Shanghai services will increase from five-times weekly to daily.

According to various sources (including the airline’s own booking tool), twice-daily flights to Muskegon (Michigan) will end on Wednesday 10 February. The 170-mile route is currently operated for Delta by Mesaba Aviation using a Saab 340.

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  1. Glen says:

    I hope that Delta continues to build up the Detroit hub which happens to be the best airport in America to frequent.

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