Two of the most competitive air markets in 2021 in the United States were New York and Boston. With multiple airlines jockeying for the top spot, each has taken a different strategy. According to Chuck Imhof, VP of Sales – East, Delta Air Lines took an approach it has known to be successful: placing the customer at the front of its endeavors.
Delta’s new routes
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), in particular, became the center of some new route launches in New York this year from Delta. This included a new three-times-per-week service to Panama City (PTY) and a summer 2021 operation to Dubrovnik (DBV) in Croatia.
Mr. Imhof characterized the growth and the routes as a customer-focused approach:
“A lot of our our decisions are driven by our customers, where tey tell us they want us to fly and when we look back over the last year, actually the last two years, we’ve had our network team our loyalty team, our revenue management team in deep discussions with our customer base. Whether it’s our customer base here in New York, or customer base in Boston, so a lot of the decisions that we make for the short or long term is really driven by our our customers.”
Delta announced that it would be adding flights between New York and Dubrovnik in May. At the time, there was not a lot of movement going on when it came to the reopening of travel in the long-haul international front. Croatia was a market that announced an early reopening, joining Iceland and Greece, where Delta Air Lines already offered nonstop service out of JFK.
An atypical launch that underlined the Delta strategy
Delta Air Lines announced Dubrovnik just under two months before launch. In comparison, American, Delta, and United Airlines announced their summer 2022 transatlantic schedules from October through December of 2021. Traditionally, airlines prefer to announce new or returning nonstop service earlier rather than later to give the most amount of time to generate bookings.
Delta announced Croatia after United did, meaning it already had competition going across the Atlantic to Croatia. However, it paid off for Delta. The reason behind this is that Delta already has a sizable, loyal customer base that propelled the launch of the new route and filled its base. Mr. Imhof made clear that Delta laid the groundwork for the last few years to get to the point where it had the confidence to try a route in a market it did not have a history serving nonstop and on such a tight timeline. While Delta will sell connections through New York, the market is primarily one of origination and destination demand.
Delta’s strategy is coming to Boston
By nearly every metric, Delta Air Lines has been successful in New York, and it continues to make investments in the market to remain successful. Now, Delta is turning that attention over to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), which is similarly a very competitive airport and market.
Boston is Delta’s newest hub, and it continues to grow both in importance and in size at the airport and the market. Underlining much of that growth is Delta bringing the successful customer-centric New York strategy over to Boston. Mr. Imhof stated the following:
“We’ve got some solid partnerships and relationships up in the Boston area. So when we think about Boston, we’re not just thinking about international and we’re not thinking just about domestic. We’re thinking about strategically how Boston helps us with the rest of our network too.”
The most significant part of the strategy is an investment. Characterizing those investments, Mr. Imhof added:
“If you look strategically where we have been investing – and this is not just an investment over the last year. This is an investment that we’ve been making in these cities over the last several years. And I’m talking about not just Boston but New York, Los Angeles and its an investment in the people, its an investment, obviously in markets and network, but its an investment in facilities.”
Network, service, and facilities are all customer-facing investments an airline can make and are all investments Delta is making. These investments brought Delta success in New York, as evidenced through the recovery, and the airline is now turning that attention to Boston. Underscoring both is the push to show local customers that Delta is committed to them and their market.