Secret To Success: Why Salt Lake City Is Delta’s Only Growing Hub

Delta’s Salt Lake City hub has grown by 7.8% since 2019, the only one of its core hubs to have risen since then. This has helped the Utah airport to pass 30 million seats for the first time. Multiple rises on existing routes are mainly responsible, with analysis showing that Delta has 99 routes from SLC in early July.

Delta B767-300ER
Salt Lake City is a true fortress up for Delta: this year, it has 75% of the airport’s seats. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Of Delta’s main hubs, only one has seen a rise in capacity since 2019: Salt Lake City. The Utah airport has an estimated 23.2 million seats by Delta this year, up by 7.8% and 1.7 million, although it remains Delta’s fourth-largest airport. This has pushed SLC’s total seats past 30 million for the first time. In comparison, Delta’s seats at New York JFK are down by 15.3%, followed by Atlanta (-10.7%), Minneapolis (-9.3%), and Los Angeles (-5.3%).

Delta's top-five airports
Delta’s SLC capacity grew by 23% between 2011-2019, although from a considerably smaller base than the top-three airports. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Mainly from capacity rises on existing routes

Capacity increases across existing routes, rather than many new routes, have mainly been responsible for SLC’s rise for Delta. This naturally involves leisure destinations, with the following 15 alone responsible for more than 1.2 million of the 1.7 million extra seats:

  1. Anchorage: up by 391% over 2019
  2. Kahului: 382%
  3. Puerto Vallarta: 116%
  4. Cancun: 110%
  5. Los Cabos: 126%
  6. Ontario: 83%
  7. Fresno: 48%
  8. Dallas Fort Worth: 46%
  9. Phoenix: 45%
  10. Colorado Springs: 44%
  11. Nashville: 43%
  12. Newark: 43%
  13. Eugene: 30%
  14. Redmond: 30%
  15. Medford: 29%

Additionally, Delta has added Miami, Memphis, and Guadalajara (replacing Aeromexico) since 2019, resulting in more than 333,000 seats, while three routes begin in May:

  1. Fairbanks: seven-weekly from May 4th
  2. Durango: seven-weekly from May 12th
  3. Moab: seven-weekly from May 5th
Delta A220-100
Regional jets have pretty much half of Delta’s flights from SLC. The Airbus A220-100 and -300 have grown significantly, although the Embraer 175 is by far the top aircraft. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Over 4,000 flights a week

Delta will have 4,032 flights from SLC in the first week of July, analyzing OAG data shows. Flights are up by over one-fifth (22%) versus the same week in 2019, equivalent to more than 100 additional movements a day. Routes have increased from 95 to 99, although this is unsurprisingly nearly half the quantity that Delta will have from Atlanta this summer.

Delta's SLC routes
Delta has 99 routes from SLC in the first week of July. Image: OAG.

Delta’s SLC hub

Delta’s SLC hub has seven waves, with each wave comprising one arrivals bank and one departures bank. One feeds the other. Simple Flying’s previous analysis shows that American Airlines’ Charlotte hub has eight and arguably nine waves, although SLC’s waves are as clear.

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With 516 movements across this July week, Delta’s sixth wave, from 1900 until 2100, is the busiest. The 1900-2000 arrivals bank is important for international, while the largest departures bank, 1100-1200, has the most international take-offs. Delta’s only long-haul routes, to Amsterdam and Paris CDG, leave in the 1400 departure bank, not a large one; they are also for SkyTeam connections beyond Schiphol and CDG.

Delta's SLC hub
Delta has seven waves at SLC, with data for the first week of July. Image: OAG.

99 routes from SLC

Delta’s SLC routes have an average of 21-weekly services in this July week, with no fewer than seven weekly per route. 28 routes have seven-weekly, including Kahului. This is quite different from the same week in 2019 when some 11 routes had less than a once-daily offering. Similarly, back then only 11 routes had a 30+ weekly service, which has now nearly doubled to 21.

Delta's top routes from SLC
Some 21 Delta routes have 30+ weekly departures. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Phoenix stands out. In 2019, it was Delta’s 13th-largest route, but it is now joint-second with 42 departures. Then, the Embraer 175 had 17x and the A321 12x, but that too has changed. It is now 21x with the A321, 14x with the A320, and just seven with the E75.