Delta Ditching Denver, Austin Flights

Aug. 06--Delta Air Lines will scrub flights from Memphis to Denver and Austin, Texas in September and temporarily suspend Memphis-Las Vegas service this winter.

The reductions will be offset by more flights between Memphis and Atlanta, the airline's global hub.

Delta will maintain current maximum daily departures from Memphis at 37 in September. The number of seats available from Memphis will increase as larger aircraft serve some Memphis routes, Delta spokeswoman Liz Savadelis said.

But nonstop destinations served from Delta's former Mid-South hub will drop to 18, down from 25 destinations last December, when Delta reduced overall Memphis flights to 49 a day. Fewer nonstop destinations means passengers flying out of Memphis will spend more time making connections to get where they're going.

Three summers ago, as Delta began to dismantle the former Northwest Airlines hub, the carrier served more than 50 cities nonstop from Memphis.

Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Tampa have dropped off Delta's Memphis route map.

Losses of Philadelphia and Denver correspond to fresh competition in those markets. Frontier began serving Memphis-Denver in March, and American Airlines/US Airways added nonstops to Philadelphia in June.

"They're avoiding intense competition wherever they can," Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority chairman Jack Sammons said of Delta.

Delta also has reduced flights to other cities including Cincinnati, Washington-Reagan, New Orleans and New York-LaGuardia.

Savadelis said Delta is temporarily suspending the Las Vegas flight in December and January in an attempt to match capacity with demand in the low-demand winter months. "We will no longer serve Austin and Denver from Memphis as they are unprofitable markets," she said.

Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president Scott Brockman said despite Delta's reductions, the airport's total service is holding steady, as measured by the number of seats on planes. That's because carriers are bringing in larger planes, and airlines report the seats are being filled, with an 89 percent load factor, or percentage of available seats occupied, in June.

Southwest is a prime example. While the carrier operated six flights from Memphis in June, each of its Boeing 737s carries nearly three times the number of passengers as the regional jets that Delta has been pulling out.

Air service consultant InterVISTAS calculated there were 2,413 seats available daily at Memphis International Airport in June and projected that number will increase slightly, to 2,450 seats, next June.

Savadelis said Delta's total number of seats from Memphis will increase this fall as the carrier adds flights and increases aircraft size. Schedules show 10 daily nonstops to Atlanta, up from eight this summer.

Rounding out Delta's nonstop destinations from Memphis will be: Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Orlando, Minneapolis, Chicago-O'Hare, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and Salt Lake City.



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