View From the Wing reported yesterday that Delta will upgrade Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) to a focus city. If true, Austin will join Boston (BOS), Cincinnati (CVG), and Raleigh-Durham (RDU) as Delta’s fourth focus city. A focus city operates like a mini-hub with additional point-to-point flights beyond the carrier’s hubs.
Delta’s Focus City Initiative
Delta has not confirmed the report, but the Atlanta-based carrier did post a job on LinkedIn for an Austin-based “Focus City” sales position. According to the job description, the Sales Account Executive (SAE) will “develop relationships and ties in the Austin market with key community and industry organizations to support Delta’s Focus City initiative.”
Austin is already a sizeable operation for Delta with service to ten destinations, including Delta’s three current focus cities. Delta is Austin’s fourth-largest carrier behind Southwest, American, and United.
Delta Already Growing Presence in Austin
Recent additions suggest Delta is indeed focusing on the fast-growing Capitol City. On May 1, Delta resumed six-weekly service to Cincinnati (CVG) on a CRJ-700. Last year, the carrier added nonstop flights to Boston (BOS), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), and Seattle (SEA). For SXSW in March 2018, Delta operated four flights to Amsterdam Schipol (AMS).
Delta also announced the opening of a new SkyClub in spring 2019. At the Austin Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, Erik Snell, Delta’s Vice President for Operations & Customer Center affirmed Delta’s commitment to Austin’s business community:
From our strong operational performance to adding new routes, Delta is committed to serving the residents and business community of Austin. As a part of the airline’s efforts to enhancing customers’ experience in Austin, this Club will give guests a new space where they can relax during their travel.
An Austin focus city makes sense for Delta for two reasons: geography and a strong local economy. American operates a mega-hub at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and United operates its second-largest hub at Houston Intercontinental (IAH). Southwest is also strong throughout Texas, with sizeable operations in Austin (AUS), Dallas–Love (DAL), Houston–Hobby (HOU) and San Antonio (SAT). Delta is the clear lone(ly) star.
Delta doesn’t need a focus city in Austin, but it would give the third-largest airline access to one of the fastest growing economies and booming tech hubs. The LinkedIn posting alluded to international travel possibilities, and I could easily picture Delta adding Amsterdam and/or Paris.
Readers, any guesses on future Delta routes?