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I was intrigued with an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, that originally appeared in the May 23, 2010 version of the Cincinnati Enquirer, called “Why CVG lost half of all flights“.
The history of Delta and CVG
In the late 1970s, after airline deregulation, Delta expanded from Atlanta into the Midwest market. With United and American airlines having hubs in Chicago and Continental in Cleveland, Cincinnati, with 2 Fortune 100 and 9 Fortune 500 companies, seemed like a logical choice.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Comair (later acquired by Delta) introduced the concept of the regional jet, replacing turboprop planes and helping lead to a $1 billion profit in 2000.
The conventional wisdom nowadays is that Delta downsized its hub at CVG after merging with Northwest in 2007, but they actually made their first cuts in 2005, right before they went into bankruptcy proceedings and before Delta began talks with Northwest . The merger with Northwest was just the final blow – in 2010, Delta did another downsizing of flights to/from CVG.
Currently, Delta’s service from Cincinnati is a shell of what it once was – less than half of the direct flights that it once offered and only one of its 4 flights to Europe (what locals call the “P&G express” to Paris).
Delta managed to keep out most service from some of the low-cost carriers, though as Delta has cut back its service, CVG does now offer service from Frontier and Allegiant, though neither Southwest nor Jet Blue fly to Cincinnati.
The future of Delta and CVG
The CVG airport contract with the airlines was signed in 1974 and expires December 31, 2015. To say the current deal favors Delta is…. an understatement. From a Cincinnati.com article on the subject:
If CVG wants a new fire truck, Delta has to approve it. If Allegiant Air wants a new walkway tunnel from the gate to the plane, Delta has to approve it. The airport can’t offer an incentive package to JetBlue Airways (or anyone else) because Delta has the final say on how extra money is spent.
That kind of veto power is not particularly conducive to low airfares or other airlines offering flights. Delta really has no incentive to do anything that would benefit other airlines. I’m sure that Delta is quite happy with the current deal! And it even may have made sense for Cincinnati back in the day when CVG was a Delta hub and had a large number of flight options, but it certainly doesn’t make sense now.
Further changes could come in 2020 – that’s when Delta’s lease on Concourse B expires.
CVG has been a Delta stronghold for as long as I’ve lived here, and I’m excited to see what the future brings!
For more information on the subject, I recommend the following articles:
- Why CVG lost half of all flights – Cincinnati Enquirer, Sunday May 23, 2010.
- Could Southwest be CVG’s next low-cost carrier? 700WLW Aviation Blog
- 5 crucial transportations coming this year, Cincinnati.com, December 27, 2014
- Here’s the latest round of Delta cuts at CVG – Cincinnati.com , February 17, 2015