Delta Slashes Cincinnati Fares

Feb 9, 2009
By Andrew Compart

Delta slashed fares at its Cincinnati hub by 5% to 60% Feb. 6, adopting the new fare structure in an attempt to win back some of the customers it has lost to lower-fare options at surrounding airports.

Delta executives let it be known last month that the airline planned to restructure the fares at the hub (DAILY, Jan. 29). Cincinnati has been one of the airline’s hardest-hit hubs by the economic downturn because of the industrial job losses in Ohio. But, beyond that, it also has been one of the highest-fare airports in the country.

The domestic air fare report released by the U.S. Transportation Dept.’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics Jan. 28, covering fares in the third quarter of 2008, said Cincinnati had the highest average fare of any of the country’s busiest 100 airports at $597. That was $48 higher than at the next highest — Knoxville, Tenn. — and $235 higher than the average for all 100. It also was 31.5% higher than the third-quarter average fare at Cincinnati in 2000, and 3.7% higher than in the third quarter of 2007.

Perhaps more telling, the third-quarter 2008 average fare at possible alternative airports for travelers in the area was $349.35 at Dayton, $337.06 at Columbus, $317.62 at Indianapolis and $350.29 at Louisville.

In light of what the fares at Cincinnati have been, and how much they have risen, Delta’s cuts in those fares are particularly dramatic.

Delta said its 5% to 60% reduction applies to all types of domestic fares, from 21-day advance to walk-up, with reductions in every market.

In providing examples of some of the biggest cuts, Delta said one-way walkup fares to New York LaGuardia and Kennedy have been slashed from $719 to $321, and to Los Angeles from $839 to $399.

Examples of some of the steepest cuts in 21-day advance-purchase one-way fares included $185 to $82 for Charleston, S.C., $180 to $84 fro St. Louis, $149 to $92 for Philadelphia, $310 to $130 for Los Angeles and $305 to $173 for Seattle.

Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive VP for network planning and revenue management, said in a press release about the changes that the new fares will “make it compelling for customers to choose the convenience of flying nonstop to more than 90 worldwide destinations from Delta’s Cincinnati hub rather than wasting time and money driving to neighboring airports.”

This isn’t the only big change Delta has made at the Cincinnati hub. This month it pared back the number of daily departures from about 300 per day to about 260, operating a tighter schedule with fewer connecting banks (DAILY, Nov. 13). Delta said its “right-sizing” of the hub with better connections would improve its profitability.

During the airline’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Jan. 27, CEO Richard Anderson said he expected to see a “nice improvement” in Cincinnati from the combination of the resized and retimed network and the new fare structure.

Photo: Daniel 2986 via Wikipedia

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