COVID-19 has taken aviation victims big and small. Airlines such as South African Airways and Virgin Australia have entered voluntary administration. Miami Air International has liquidated. The pandemic has been troubling. Now, Delta Airlines is cutting domestic routes. These cuts are expected to be temporary. Delta hopes to reopen these airports as soon as September. Double digits at that. In addition to Westchester in New York, a number of other cities are on the chopping block. As well, Burbank and Long Beach fliers are going to have to make a longer trek. In Chicago, service will be ended at Midway Airport. Other cities affected include Oakland, Providence, Akron, New Windsor (NY), Manchester (NH), and Williamsburg until at least September. American cities are not the only ones affected. Delta also announced a temporary suspension to Saskatoon in Canada. These are unfortunate fallouts as a result of the virus.
While not unexpected, it is surprising that Delta chose to cut mid-sized airports. At the moment, the flight load isn’t there. Many passengers are staying home. It also makes sense. Small cities rely on air service. Mid sized airports were always going to be the largest victims. Many of these airports are in large metro areas. For example, users of Chicago Midway can still travel out of Chicago O’Hare. Those in Long Beach and Burbank have LAX. Oakland has San Francisco. Providence and Manchester have Providence. Williamsburg has Norfolk. Akron has Cleveland. New Windsor and Westchester have New York.
Consolidating services makes sense for several reasons. Firstly, there are other nearby airports available. As well, these are all in large metro areas. Metro areas tend to have multiple airports. This means that services to the cities itself are not affected. While this may be inconvenient for travelers, it makes sense for the airline. Also, it just doesn’t make sense for Delta right now to serve those airports. Flight loads are extremely low. Those in big cities often fly out of the bigger airports. This is just a residue effect.
Temporary Cuts with Delta
It is important to remember that this is expected to be temporary. It is impossible to say how long this will last. More airports could also be added. Could Fort Lauderdale end up here next? West Palm Beach? Houston Hobby? Dallas Love Field? Baltimore? Sarasota? Daytona Beach? Dayton? Lexington? These airports are definitely going to be hoping not. But, they also realize the real possibility. With much larger airports nearby and low loads, it doesn’t make sense for Delta to serve these airports. At least, not at the moment.
So much has happened to air travel during this pandemic. Airports have become ghost towns. it is now eery to walk down concourses. No one can blame Delta for their decision. Times are tough. Airlines are bleeding out of every pocket. No matter how you look at this, it is all for cost cutting measures. Delta has been always good at researching markets. These suspensions were likely to be heavily researched before decisions were taken. For employees, there is good news. While they won’t be able to work at these airports, Delta will continue to pay its employees. Good on Delta for that.
When will Delta be Back?
The hope is service will be soon restored. Delta is aiming for September. However, that is unlikely. Why? First of all, this could last well past then. Secondly, it will take a long time for America to travel again. Then, we can assume that flight loads will be light. It won’t make sense for Delta to resume services to the airports this soon. Furthermore, there are alternative airports available. The smaller airports in major cities are often for convenience. However, it can be hard to offer that when you can’t make a profit. Financially, it just makes sense.
So what can travelers expect? Most likely, for Delta to prolong these suspensions. This could likely last till the end of 2020. Going into 2021 isn’t out of the question either. Without a vaccine, Americans won’t feel safe traveling. Flight loads may slowly begin to rise but it will take a long time for demand to reach where it was. We can only hope that one day soon, travelers will be able to get to their closest airport. But more likely, more airports will be added to the list. Will it be one of the aforementioned? Maybe it will be a larger airport than we thought. Perhaps Washington Reagan? We hope not. But, Delta will likely suspend more services before resuming any.
Delta has opened a door. More airlines are likely to follow. It is hard to imagine American or United generating any traffic out of these airports. Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue might also be looking at this and considering the same thing. Luckily for travelers, these airports are all very close to much larger airports. Unfortunately, it takes away the convenience of flying that we are so used to. Hopefully by September 2020, we can celebrate the restoration of these airports. Unfortunately, that is unlikely so we will wait and speculate on which airport is likely to be cut next.