Thursday, March 18, 2010

Delta to add 22 daily flights on N.Y.-Chicago route using...Regional Jets By Dan Reed, USA TODAY

Delta Air Lines plans to launch in June almost hourly service between New York and Chicago, already one of the most heavily served routes in the USA.

With 11 new flights a day each way between New York's LaGuardia Airport and Chicago's O'Hare airport, Delta seeks to increase its market strength in the New York travel market. It already offers shuttle service from LaGuardia to Washington and Boston. It has dozens of international flights a day from New York's JFK.

Delta, the world's biggest airline, also is picking a fight with its two closest rivals. No. 2 American and No. 3 United operate large hubs at O'Hare and have significant operations at LaGuardia.
Delta will operate its New York-Chicago shuttle with Embraer E-175 regional jets equipped with 12 first-class and 64 coach seats. American operates 16 flights a day on that route, using larger planes. United has 15 flights a day on that route, 10 on
Airbus A319 and A320 jets and five aboard E-175s configured like those Delta will use.

Indirectly, Delta also will be taking on No. 4 Continental, which serves the New York-Chicago market nine times a day from Newark Airport across the Hudson River from Manhattan. United flies 10 times a day between Newark and O'Hare.

Even discount king Southwest Airlines, which last year began serving New York City for the first time, competes in the market. It flies five times daily between LaGuardia and Chicago's Midway airport.

Delta's use of regional jets against bigger jets "is going to be a tough sell," says Bob Harrell, a New York-based business travel price analyst and consultant. "But Delta will attract some frequent fliers here who want to pick up their Delta mileage points" when flying to Chicago.
A flight of two-plus hours between Chicago and New York is long enough to make the comfort issue of a regional jet an important one, said Aaron Gellman, who teaches in the Transportation Center at Chicago's
Northwestern University.

Last week, the average price paid by business travelers going between LaGuardia and O'Hare for a refundable fare was $282 each way, Harrell says. The lowest fare on the route last week was $84 each way, but included many restrictions, was non-refundable and not available on many seats. Between Newark and O'Hare, the comparable fares were $482 and $86 each way.
Southwest's fares on its LaGuardia-Midway flights range between $76 and $300 each way.

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