HEBRON, Ky. — Delta Air Lines confirmed Tuesday its summer flight schedule includes a 14 percent reduction in service levels – as measured by the total the number of seats available on daily flights – at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
The Atlanta–based carrier, which has been shrinking its Cincinnati hub for more than a decade, plans to eliminate 21 daily flights to 20 cities while boosting service levels to five cities. Delta’s overall number of peak daily flights will decline to 86, a far cry from Delta’s glory days in Cincinnati, when more than 500 daily flights departed.
“For summer 2015, Delta will serve 36 markets non-stop from CVG,” said airport spokeswoman Melissa Wideman. “Overall, CVG will offer service to 56 non-stop airport destinations on a year-around and seasonal basis with more than 160 peak day departures, more than any other airport in our region.”
Delta’s cuts have been offset by new flights from Frontier and Allegiant, which are lower-cost airlines that could eventually bring down local fares.
“In the second quarter of 2015, overall capacity at CVG will be up 6 percent with much of the capacity increase coming from low cost carriers,” Wideman said.
Still, the latest round of Delta cuts will mean the loss of all Delta service to Madison, Wisc. Jacksonville and Fort Myers, Fla., New Orleans, La. and San Diego, Calif. Pittsburgh will lose two daily flights. Cities that will see service reductions include Atlanta, Baltimore, Orlando, Kansas City, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The latest round of cuts are driven by Delta’s reduction in the number of 50-seat regional jets. But as larger jets replace the 50-seaters, five markets will see a gain in service. Chicago will see a 50 percent increase in the number of available seats, jumping from 300 to 450.
“There are five markets where we’re actually increasing service,” said Delta spokesman Anthony Black. “Nashville, Detroit, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco, we’re adding service to all those markets.”
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Trey Grayson said the airport is still a competitive advantage for the region, providing more daily service than other cities of similar size. But it’s never good news to lose all service to an existing market.
“That’s disappointing,” he said. “Maybe were not losing as many seats, but we’re losing service.”
Grayson said businesses are hoping for lower fares to the northeast, particularly Boston, where Fidelity Investments and Procter & Gamble Co. employees regularly travel. Local companies are also pining for more international flights, especially to London.
Aviation analyst Jay Ratliff said this summer’s cuts won’t be the last from Delta. He thinks the airline could trim service by another 40 percent before the hub bottoms out.
“They’ll be somewhere in the range of 50 flights, give or take a handful,” he said.
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