Austin’s airport is adding 37% more gates next year, and Delta is preparing to make it a focus city complete with SkyClub with outdoor deck.
Focus city status isn’t official for Austin yet, but as of Friday it is for Raleigh-Durham which serves the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, where Delta is already the largest airline (carrying one-third of passengers, with 10% connecting connecting traffic). Delta’s other focus cities are Cincinnati and Boston (of course Cincinnati used to be a hub).
Delta flies from Raleigh to Paris, a route they’ve already upgauged. 70% of Paris passengers connect onward in Europe, providing significant competition to American’s London Heathrow flight. American operated a money-losing hub in Raleigh in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including operating a Paris flight themselves.
Credit: Raleigh-Durham International Airport
American’s hub was replaced by one for Midway Airlines after that carrier failed at Chicago Midway. They failed in Raleigh, too. They filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, but since federal airline subsidies after 9/11 were based on pre-existing traffic Midway received $12.5 million. They restarted operations in December 2001, lasting until mid-July 2002. (They briefly operated half a dozen regional jets under the US Airways Express banner in 2003.)
Delta plans to add three Chicago O’Hare flights in April of next year. At an event announcing focus city status Delta shared they’re more focused on Raleigh – Seattle and Salt Lake City before Portland.
I haven’t been to Raleigh since heading to Duke law school three years ago to talk mistake fares and found a busy Admirals Club there.
Naming Raleigh a focus city really just codifies what’s already the case, this move doesn’t come with immediate new flights. Delta has been growing in Raleigh, and is likely to continue to do so.