Delta Air Lines Sees An Opportunity To Do More Regional Flying

Delta Air Lines sees an opportunity to do a little more regional flying due to changing living patterns in the United States. With new opportunities arising from people taking advantage of work from home programs, Delta could look at new options to medium- and small-sized destinations.

Delta Boeing 717 Getty
Delta Air Lines used to have a big presence in New York City. It might take a few years for that to build back up as people leave the city for smaller, cheaper, cities where Delta could boost operations. Photo: Getty Images

An option for more regional flying

FlightGlobal reports that Joe Esposito, Senior Vice President of Network Planning at Delta Air Lines, believes that work from home programs at companies are leading Americans to abandon bigger, more expensive cities and move to smaller towns. For example, Mr. Esposito noted that some New Yorkers were leaving the big city and moving to smaller destinations in upstate New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Others are going a little further to Florida.

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As a result of this changing market, Delta believes there could be options to alter its regional flying. For example, there are possibilities, though Mr. Esposito did not name specific routes, but rather that the airline could move some larger 70-seater regional jet routes to the airline’s smaller narrowbody aircraft (like the A220s and 717s) and then use those free regional jets on CRJ200 routes.

The Airbus A220 is Delta’s newest small mainline jet. Photo: Getty Images

Delta’s regional fleet

Delta’s smaller mainline jets are Airbus A220s and Boeing 717s. In the regional sphere, Delta contracts out CRJ900s and E175s as the largest regional jets.

  • Airbus A220-100 (109 seats): 12 first class seats, 15 extra-legroom economy seats, and 82 economy seats
  • Airbus A220-300 (130 seats): 12 first class seats, 30 extra-legroom economy seats, and 88 economy seats
  • Boeing 717 (110 seats): 12 first class seats, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, and 78 economy seats
  • Bombardier CRJ900 (70 seats): 12 first class seats, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, 38 economy seats
  • Bombardier CRJ900 (76 seats): 12 first class, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, 44 economy seats
  • Bombardier CRJ700 (69 seats): nine first class, 16 extra-legroom economy seats, 44 economy seats
  • Embraer E175 (70 seats): 12 first class seats, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, 38 economy seats
  • Embraer E175 (76 seats): 12 first class, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, 44 economy seats
  • Embraer E170 (69 seats): nine first class, 20 extra-legroom economy seats, 40 economy seats
Delta CRJ900
Delta Connection’s CRJ900 is well-known at many regional airports in the United States. Photo: Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is retiring all of its Boeing 717s by 2025 and its 50-seater CRJ200s by 2023. The latter jets would likely be replaced by CRJ700s, E170s, and some E175s. The CRJ900s also could be a good bet and would be much better than the CRJ200s.

Delta connection CRJ 200 getty
Delta’s smallest regional planes are the CRJ200s, which will exit the fleet by the end of 2023. Photo: Getty Images

In the last few years, Delta Air Lines has adjusted its regional flying. The airline has rejigged and consolidated its regional partnerships. Delta has also used certain jets, like the Embraer jets, to launch new routes, such as a few out of Miami, to support its new partnership with LATAM, which uses Miami as a gateway to and from South America.

Delta Embraer
Embraer’s E175s are operating some of Delta’s new routes out of Miami. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Delta is not alone in tapping into these opportunities

While some airlines are worried about cutting some regional destinations, especially those that are not growing, United Airlines also sees an interesting opportunity to tap into businesses whose employees no longer need to clock in at headquarters or an office seven days a week.

Delta has not announced any partnerships like United’s Peerspace one, but it apparently is also seeing some similar trends as United Airlines. How Delta reacts, however, remains to be seen.

Living in a major city like New York can be expensive. And, for most people who no longer have to go to work outside the home to collect a paycheck, money stretches a little further outside of cities. The only thing that Delta needs to monitor is if companies start to reverse work from home policies and people start to move back to the cities. In the meantime, it might be an excellent option for Delta.

Do you think Delta will increase its regional flying? Are you one of those people moving out of a city to a smaller destination? Let us know in the comments!