The competition is brewing in Boston.
Over the weekend, Delta Air Lines filed a notable schedule update for its Boston hub, adding six leisure-focused routes to the Caribbean just in time for the peak winter season.
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Cirium schedules show that the Atlanta-based carrier is adding the following routes, most of which haven’t been operated since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Delta confirmed the changes with TPG, but didn’t have a statement to share.
|Boston (BOS)||Aruba (AUA)||Flights begin Dec. 18 with 4x weekly flights||Last operated in March 2020|
|Boston (BOS)||Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)||Flights begin Dec. 18 with 5x weekly flights||Last operated in May 2021|
|Boston (BOS)||Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)||Flights begin Dec. 19 with 4x weekly flights||Last operated in March 2020|
|Boston (BOS)||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)||Flights begin Dec. 19 with 5x weekly flights||Last operated in March 2020|
|Boston (BOS)||St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT)||Flight begin Dec. 18 with 3x weekly flights||Last operated in May 2021|
|Boston (BOS)||Turks & Caicos (PLS)||Flights begin Dec. 18 with 1x weekly flight on Saturdays||Last operated in March 2020|
Notably, all six routes that Delta is restarting are already operated by JetBlue, and four of them are flown by American Airlines as well.
For Delta, the move comes as leisure travel continues its recovery from the depths of the pandemic. With domestic summer travel at all-time highs, the carrier’s likely betting that the momentum will continue when the snow starts falling and the sun sets earlier.
But this latest boost likely isn’t only about the increased demand.
Boston is one of Delta’s newest hubs — it was designated as such in 2019 — and the airline was aggressively growing there leading up to March 2020. The pandemic stymied Delta’s growth plan, but now that the recovery is underway, the airline’s boosting Boston once again.
“We’re really just pulling that old playbook back out to continue to reestablish the footprint that this building was designed for,” Henry Kuykendall, Delta’s senior vice president of East Coast airport operations, told TPG at Logan Airport in mid-May. “Boston was one of our fastest-growing hubs.”
Delta plans to hire about 200 customer service and below-wing employees at Logan, Kuykendhall said — on top of all of the employees previously on voluntary leaves or furloughs during the pandemic, who have already been recalled.
Though Delta is pulling out its pre-pandemic playbook in Boston, the airline is going to face some competitive headwinds with its latest expansion.
In July 2020, American Airlines and JetBlue upended the competitive status-quo with their new Northeast Alliance, which is focused on building connectivity in both New York and Boston.
Since then, the two carriers have launched a slew of new routes, additional frequencies and enhanced schedule coordination in both markets, much of which goes up against Delta’s existing foothold there.
Just this year, Delta has retaliated against American and JetBlue by adding more lie-flat seats on the premium Boston to Los Angeles transcon hop, as well as announcing four new Boston and New York routes.
Now, Delta’s bringing the competition to the Caribbean. How it’ll fare is anyone’s guess, but the heat is on.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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