Delta rekindles Cincinatti love affair

by Jerome Greer Chandler
February 16, 2018
Delta Cincinatti expansion
Photo: Delta.

Delta’s fallen in love with Cincinnati once again, rekindling a flame that all but died in the wake of the airline’s merger with Northwest Airlines when it “de-hubbed” Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

These days Delta refers to Cincinnati as a “focus city,” one worthy of more flights to more places but not quite hubbish.

Over the past couple of years Delta has been steadily re-building CVG, growing the airport to 82 peak-day departures to 36 destinations—including nonstop service to Paris Charles De Gaulle.

The latest additions: a daily CRJ-700 nonstop to Austin come May 1 and nonstop service to Phoenix, which gets off the ground November 4.

After establishing a strong Cincinnati hub in the pre-Northwest days, Delta cut CVG flights significantly when it merged.

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The calculus was that Detroit and Minneapolis would be the airline’s mid-continent hubs, that there wasn’t a place for three full-blown hubs in that part of the country.

Memphis suffered a similar fate in the south. Northwest’s Memphis hub lay a too-close 330 miles to Delta’s megahub in Atlanta.

Of late, Delta’s been on a bit of a mission to rekindle the favor of local travelers in the Ohio River Valley city of Cincinnati. It seems to be working.

“CVG is pleased to see Delta grow its business at CVG,” says Candace McGraw, the airport’s chief executive officer. “Delta experienced local passenger growth of more than 10 percent in 2017 and has increased their passenger volume at CVG for 27 consecutive months.”

In the wake of the Northwest merger, Delta operates nine domestic hubs: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

The latter, Seattle (SEA), is the airline’s latest hub. The scenario in the Pacific Northwest powerhouse pits Delta against hometown Alaska Airlines in what some believe to be a move to eventually spark a merger with Alaska.