Delta to Cut Nonstop Flights

Going from Tallahassee to New York City, Cincinnati or West Palm Beach will be more complicated on Dec. 1 when Delta Air Lines halts nonstop flights to the first two destinations and ends service to the third.

The nonstops to Cincinnati and New York City "were not profitable routes," said Phil Inglese, assistant aviation director at Tallahassee Regional Airport. "The evening flight was fine. The morning flight wasn't profitable," he said.

Delta started twice-daily, round-trip flights from Tallahassee to Long Island's Kennedy Airport on Jan. 31.

The airline is cutting its single nonstop daily flight to Cincinnati, three daily flights to West Palm Beach and one daily flight to Tampa, according to Delta officials.

Delta filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 laws in September and says it will cut up to 20 percent of its domestic flights in an effort to remain viable.

"As part of our corporate transformation, our goal is to right-size the markets by providing adequate service where it supports the passenger demand," said Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta in Atlanta.

Black also said Delta wants to increase its more profitable international routes by 25 percent.

Inglese said Delta plans to use more Boeing 737s instead of smaller MD-88 jets. The 737 can carry about 175 passengers while the MD-88 carries about 150 people.

Inglese also said airport officials had talked with Gulfstream Airways, a Continental regional carrier, about starting service from West Palm Beach to Tallahassee by the end of December. He also said Continental flies to Newark, N.J., and that may be a service that is substituted for the New York City flights.

Gulfstream flies twin turbo-prop planes that seat 19 passengers. The airline serves nine cities in Florida and five destinations in the Bahamas.

Michael Boyd, a long-time airline industry analyst who heads The Boyd Group Inc., said Delta is doing what it has to do to survive and that in the long run, the changes will benefit Tallahassee.

He said Tallahassee still has "great service" to Atlanta and pointed to the larger planes as good for the long term.

He said there was no reason to expect airlines such as Southwest, JetBlue or AirTran to fly into and out of Tallahassee because it is not economically feasible for them.

When it comes to airline growth and airport service, "the future is legacy carriers, not low-cost carriers," he said.

Tallahassee Democrat

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