Delta will begin flying from Cincinnati to Austin and
Phoenix later this year.
The routes are part of a move by the carrier to beef up
service at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport after largely pulling out of
its hub in the Queen City a decade ago.
Delta will fly six days per week between Cincinnati and
Austin beginning May 1 and will launch the daily Cincinnati-Phoenix route on
Nov. 4. They’ll compete with ultralow-cost carriers Allegiant and Frontier on
the Austin route and with Frontier on the Phoenix route.
Delta will also extend its seasonal Cincinnati-Seattle
service into a year-round offering beginning March 2.
Delta said that it has increased capacity at Cincinnati by
12% over the past two years through a combination of adding new markets,
increasing frequencies and flying larger aircraft. Delta will fly 82 peak-day
departures out of Cincinnati by the end of this year, serving 36 destinations.
Seth Kaplan, managing partner for the newsletter Airline
Weekly, said the increases Delta is making in Cincinnati should be kept in
context. In the summer of 2005, before Delta began the process of sharply
reducing its Cincinnati hub operation, the carrier was offering more than 600
flights on most days from the mid-sized Midwestern city, he noted, citing data
from analytics company Diio Mi.
Still, Kaplan said that Delta is letting competitors know
that it plans to remain Cincinnati’s leading carrier, even as other airlines
have begun filling the vacuum its dehubbing created. According to the local
airport authority, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky serviced 7.8 million passengers
in 2017, up 16% year over year. Southwest made entry into Cincinnati last year.
Frontier added four routes last year and has five launches scheduled this year.
And Allegiant launched five routes last year and has two more routes planned
for this year.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Delta
had 25% of the Cincinnati market share for the 12 months that ended last
October, leading Frontier, which had 15%.
“I think their approach has been to do whatever they have to
do there to remain the preferred airline,” Kaplan said of Delta. “At the
beginning that didn’t take much. Now that everybody else has added there, it
takes a little more.”