Detroit (DTW) is No CLE or MEM, New Service, Carriers, Routes, & Impressive Profits

Sometimes in all the chatter about the decline of commercial aviation’s Midwest hubs, the story of Detroit Metro Airport gets lost. How frustrating it was for Detroit Airport executives to recently read a story about the shutdown of United’s Cleveland hub which also mentioned, in passing, that the Detroit hub has suffered as well. “People seem to focus on Detroit (city’s) financial situation,” said Joe Cameron, director of air service development for Detroit Metro. “But the economy has really turned around here, and we’ve been getting new service.”

Thanks to Delilah K at CNBC for passing on (getting permission) to share the following interesting article from The Street by Ted Reed:

The announcement on Thursday that Spirit will add Minneapolis service is a sign that the airport is flourishing.  At Detroit Metro, Delta operates 450 peak daily operations to 132 destinations. Meanwhile, Alaskaannounced Tuesday it will fly Seattle-Detroit. In December, Detroit Metro traffic grew 7.4%. Other recently announced new service includes Delta’s second daily London Heathrow flight, starting this summer; the start of JetBlueBoston-Detroit service in March; and a Frontier flight to Wilmington, Del., service in April. Perhaps the most striking fact about Detroit Metro is that its No. 1 international destination, in terms of revenue, is Shanghai. Delta flies daily to Shanghai with a 269-seat Boeing 777LR. According to airport stats, the Shanghai market produces about $71 million in annual revenue, counting tickets sold at both ends.

With five daily departures, Detroit is the third-biggest U.S. hub for Asia after United’s San Francisco hub and Delta’s emerging Seattle hub. The city seems a natural candidate for service from one of the three rapidly expanding Middle East airlines. An advantage for Detroit is that Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways all offer multiple India connections, and Detroit-India traffic totals about 120 passengers daily, the largest foreign market that does not have non-stop service.”We’re talking to them,” Cameron said. “We’ve talked to all three of them, many times.” On March 10, the same day that JetBlue begins Detroit-Boston flights, Emirates starts Boston-Dubai. “Emirates is putting a toe in the water” in Detroit, Cameron said.

For airline geeks only, here is another fascinating Detroit Metro fact: Turin, Italy, is the airport’s fifth-largest European market, even though all of the service is one-stop. Annual origin and destination revenue is $16 million, up from $3.6 million 10 years ago. The reason, of course, is that Turin-based Fiat acquired a stake in Chrysler in 2009 and now owns the U.S. automaker.

Delta flies Detroit-Amsterdam four times a day, deriving annual O&D revenue of about $15 million. Last month, Delta partner KLM announced it will begin twice-daily Amsterdam-Turin service in May.

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