When was the last time you read about an airline opting for greater comfort? That’s exactly what Delta Airlines has done.
Delta will be the first U.S. airline to begin flying the Airbus A220-100, a new airplane that is described as very high-tech and quieter in the cabin. And it’s 100 seats are wider. Its two-by-three configuration means there will be fewer of the hated middle seats, too.
As reported by Skift, Joe Esposito, Delta’s senior vice president for network planning, said the airline will use the new aircraft to replace regional jets on routes such as New York to Dallas/Fort Worth and New York to Houston.
Why is Delta doing this? For one, the A220s are predicted to be cheaper to fly on a per-seat basis than other similarly sized jets. For another, the routes they will fly are those with its most lucrative passengers on board.
They are also routes where competitors such as United Airlines and American Airlines may not be using planes that are as passenger-friendly.
“You will see us put those in competitive areas,” Esposito said. “We are going to start with our biggest markets.” In other words, in those markets where Delta is vying with its competitors for the same full-fare corporate customers.
Delta is using other strategies to gain and keep passengers. One is to fly more direct flights on medium-range hauls, rather than routing through the airline’s hubs. Example: Last month the airline announced it would add three daily flights next April from Raleigh, South Carolina, to Chicago O’Hare.
“It’s really for the Raleigh customer,” Esposito said. “We have such a big, loyal following there that the next thing they want is Chicago, which we don’t serve. It’s [a] process of going through and understanding where the consumers want to go. We have great data on that.”
Delta has also been adding flights to Europe from nonhub cities, with transatlantic runs from Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Raleigh, Orlando and Boston. As Skift pointed out, American has just one similar flight from a nonhub—from Raleigh to London—while United has none.