United’s Poison Pill: DC Airports Agree Any Airline Adding Flights At National Airport Must Pay $1 Million

Flights from Washington’s National airport are limited to 1,250 miles unless they are one of a handful of exception flights provided for in legislation and handed out by the Department of Transportation.

In the Spring Delta launched a lobbying effort to expand the 20 ‘beyond perimeter’ roundtrips a day at the airport. They don’t want to eliminate the rule, adopted in part to protect the growth of Washington Dulles for long distance flying before it had yet developed on its own, because that would help American Airlines too much – American has a majority of takeoffs and landings at the slot-controlled airport.

A beyond perimeter flight is valuable. Southwest Airlines, for instance, has the only legally-permitted flight between National airport and Austin. No other airline is allowed to compete on that route. Other options either involve connections or going to Dulles.

Other goals of the perimeter rule were limiting congestion (longer flights might mean larger planes) and limiting noise. But the airport can’t regularly handle aircraft larger than a Boeing 757 anyway due to the length of its main runway and noise concerns are much less of an issue with more modern aircraft than when rules were put in place 57 years ago.

  • In the spring Delta had proposed 28 new roundtrip per day, hoping to gain many of those for themselves.

  • Going nowhere, over the summer they scaled back their ask to 7 new daily slots.

  • While United opposes any growth at National as a threat to its business at Washington Dulles, American – which has over half the slots at National and didn’t want to see its position diluted – softened its opposition. Southwest came out in favor.

National Hall

United Airlines has a major operation at Washington Dulles and benefits from the perimeter rule because their long-distance flights don’t have competition at closer-in National airport. Perhaps the major reason that the perimeter rule hasn’t been displaced is that United Airlines consistently lobbies for it to remain.

Dulles airport has received over $300 million in passenger fees over 10 years transferred from National airport in order to keep United’s costs low so that it doesn’t leave. The Commonwealth of Virginia has also kicked in $50 million.

The local airport authority, keen to keep United happy at Dulles and to mollify constituents near National airport who abhor the idea of growth, opposes any new beyond-perimeter slots and they’ve added a poison pill to their proposed new airport master lease to kill any effort by Congress to allow them.

This lease provides that any airline taking advantage of a new beyond-perimeter slot at National airport would have to pay $1 million annually to support Dulles airport. This would circumvent Congress’ authority to expand flying from National airport, with a $2,700 per day fee – making taking advantage of the slot uneconomic.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is asking the airport authority for records of communications with United as well as astroturf lobbying groups over this position. He, along with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), had supported legislation that would have allowed 4 new beyond perimeter slots and he’s seeking additional flights to Texas (Dallas and Houston are within the perimeter, San Antonio and Austin are not).

“MWAA is not United Airlines’ corporate lobbyist, nor should it be,” Cruz wrote.

The dueling coalitions have marshaled arguments and counterarguments since the idea to add flights was pitched in April. Supporters say that it would reduce airfares and that Dulles no longer needs to be protected by restrictions at its older, sister airport. But opponents say National already is at capacity, pointing to an FAA analysis that concluded that more flights would mean more delays.

National airport, formally named for Ronald Reagan, is a congested airport. It lacks gate and terminal space. But it’s not really above intended flying capacity, because slot allocations assumed private jet movements throughout the day that are no longer permitted.

National Airport Historic Terminal

Ultimately the battle here is over which airline gets subsidies – the exclusive right to fly in and out of the airport gifted to it by the government (slots) or protection from competition. Neither is a good approach. Congestion pricing would be far more market-based and pro-competitive, but there won’t be any airlines currently holding slots that would support this.

(HT: Enilria)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. $1M per slot per year makes “taking advantage of the slot uneconomic”?

    OK, let’s do the case math…1 flight 5x per week, 200 passengers on the flight….5x50x200 = 50,000 pax / year. $1M / 50k = $20 per ticket premium for the DCA flight. Less than the marginal cost of an Uber to IAD vs. DCA for many residents of the area (e.g. anyone in DC proper, Arlington, Alexandria). That doesn’t strike me as a deal-breaker; it strikes me as a bargain.

  2. “mollify constituents near National airport who abhor the idea of growth”

    Count me, who lives 4 miles from DCA as being all for more beyond the perimeter routes. I just do not know that people who live near DCA abhor growth. If memory serves me, one single person was responsible for an outsized number of complaints about noise.

  3. In 1969, the idea was that most people lived nearer to National Airport and Dulles was in the middle of nowhere in horse country. News flash: it’s not 1969 anymore. And I say this to the airlines, the gov’t agencies involved, but also to pundits (including you, Gary) who assume that the situation is as simple as “National is close in and Dulles is waaaaaay far out”. Well, that’s relative. To members of congress and lobbyists, that is true. But millions of people with some of America’s highest incomes live a lot closer to IAD than to DCA. More people live in Fairfax and Loudon Counties than live in Arlington or Alexandria (yes, I’m aware that southern Fairfax Co is closer to DCA – though that’s also the least prosperous part of the county).

    Not to mention that getting from IAD to the District isn’t all that bad anymore; Metro connects you, as does the direct Dulles Access Route (which has done this job for nearly 60 years). It’s not all that difficult. The DMV is a major metropolitan area that is actually served by 3 airports, and each one is perfectly capable of doing it’s own thing. Including Dulles, which can do just fine on its own.

  4. As usual, you attribute to others what I pointed out on this blog yesterday and I picked it up from published media.

    The simple reality is that United is the airline that bribed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by offering flights in order to gain preferential treatment at Newark. just because UA’s then execs got caught doesn’t mean that UA got righteous.

    UA was also the airline that objected to transportability of HND slots even though HA and AA supported DL and, guess what, UA lost the possibility of stealing HA’s slots and the ex-DL slot will probably end up with AA as the smallest US operator at HND.

    Whatever you think about Cruz, there are people in Washington DC that have to expose the corruption that is rampant in the US and United is right up there in it.

    UA screwed up its New York City strategy, is now 15% smaller than DL in flights, has a subsidized hub at IAD that is still operating out of 40 year old temporary concourses, and expanded service at DCA would absolutely threaten UA’s IAD hub which UA has no choice but to expand in order to grow its presence in the NE even as DL builds its hub in Boston and has the potential to overtake UA in the NE.

    the entire notion of IAD being subsidized by DCA is wrong. If IAD can’t make it on its after all these years, then it is time to let economics take their course. It is beyond hypocritical for the same federal government that controls Washington DC aviation to oppose the Spirit/JetBlue merger because of higher costs to consumers when that is exactly what they are trying to do in Washington DC

  5. @AngryFlier – if your response was in any way directed towards my post, I would clarify that I am not saying this is some great idea or that IAD needs the money. Completely agree with your points on the demographics of FFX and Loudoun counties. However, there are more than enough pax to go around and for enough of them the DCA option would be attractive enough that a $20 premium would not be a fatal poison pill as the author suggests.

  6. @ Tim Dunn — So, its OK when Delta plays crooked, but not United?Sorry, corruption doesn’t work that way.

  7. feel free to let us know what Delta did that is corrupt.
    Lobbying is not corrupt, not even for United.
    Doing so without being public is corrupt.
    Cruz is simply asking for the records between the MWAA and UA to be made public.
    It was clear from day 1 that DL was behind the latest move to expand DCA beyond perimeter slots.
    It was also clear from day 1 that UA would be the sole loser and everyone else would benefit to some degree or another.

    I recognize the corruption in Washington but ultimately believe that the right thing will prevail.

    I am all for adding a surcharge to DCA flights IF the money is kept there and IF the perimeter restriction is eliminated – just as it should be at LGA.

  8. When the perimeter rule was enacted, the practical effect was to shut out 707’s and DC-8’s from National, planes that were excrutiatingly loud. When I first went to Washington in 1972, United, American, TWA, and Pan Am transcons used Dulles, along with what back then were “regionals”, Southern, Ozark.

    Transatlantic flights used IAD once a day with evening departures, just as they do now.

    That was it. The perimeter rule allowed AA to fly to its DFW hub. There was no DEN hub for UA anywhere near what it is now, nor SLC for DL/WA.

    While, yes, the permimeter rule did serve to force flights to IAD, there was a good reason for it. Today, people can’t imagine what it was like in the days when a 727, Eastern’s “Whisperjet” was considered quiet.

    If the perimeter rule were eliminated, but DCA remained slot controlled, what would happen is that regional flights would be cut, while long hauls would increase. So places like CAE and TYS would loose flights and places like SAN and PSP would gain.

    Abolishing the perimeter rule without also abolishing slot controls would simply be a zero sum game.

  9. @CW, nope I never even thought to reply to your post. My frustration is toward the usual tenor of stories like these (this time, its Gary) which repeat the old workhorse template of “DCA is convenient to EVERYONE while IAD sucks and is out near West Virginia”. It’s a stereotypical overview of the real situation.

    @Goforride: I’m pretty much in agreement with what you’ve said here. In 1972, we lived in Chantilly and the planes would sometimes come in right over us – entertaining to 8 year old me, but loud too. When we were bored, we’d take a ride to the airport (IAD) to see the planes – as there was no security then. And yes, people thought we lived “far out”. Today, Chantilly is considered pretty convenient in an era where many commute from Fredericksburg, Charles Town or Hagerstown. Times change. My only quibble with your comment is that DCA is always going to be limited in how much traffic it can physically serve due to it’s runway configuration, lack of space for expansion, and flight path limitations. So, the slot controls may well need to remain.

    I sure remember DCA as being like a crappy old bus station, while IAD was the glamorous place to go. If you were flying somewhere good, it was from Dulles. If you were flying to Hartford or Cleveland, it was from National.

  10. goforride,
    It is very possible to require that trading an inside perimeter slot for an outside perimeter destination should require that the total number of seats in the insider perimeter market not decrease which is possible by using larger aircraft.
    DCA has the lowest average aircraft size of any hub thanks to the high use of regional jets esp by AA and also their higher percentage of slots than DL at LGA – which also has a perimeter restriction.
    Smaller markets don’t need 4 flights/day on regional jets – and those that argue that smaller cities will suffer do so because they want environmentally and economically unviable service to support THEM.

    2 A319s or A220-300s have the same number of seats as 4 E175s. Moving those 2 former regional jet slots to mainline flights outside of the perimeter adds choice and seats.
    And despite the arguments otherwise, DCA, like LGA, can handle more passengers going through the terminals – because billions have been spent expanding and renovating the terminals

  11. Tim, most lobbying goes on behind the scenes.

    Also, you keep saying DL has more “flights” than UA in NYC, but, with all of the upgauging UA has done, they carry significantly more passengers than DL while deriving all of the benefits of a single hub dynamic, as opposed to DL running significantly more regional jets and splitting its hub between two airports.

  12. “feel free to let us know what Delta did that is corrupt.”
    Uhhh… Tim, have you ever read ANYTHING about the ridiculous corrupt coordination that goes on between the City of Atlanta and Delta Air Lines to protect ATL from having ANY other commercial airport in the ATL region?
    To say nothing of the numerous articles that stem from the way the city of Atlanta uses ATL in case after case of corruption. I’m sure in your mind, Delta was just aghast and could never have known, much less reported, the obvious corruption at ATL and the Mayor’s office. But… You’d honestly have to be living under a rock to assume Delta had no idea that was going on and didn’t report it. Delta’s lease at ATL gives them VERY in depth knowledge of everything that goes on at ATL, to include approving contracts that stemmed the corruption investigation.

    That said, it is pretty ridiculous that United continues to milk DCA passengers under the guise of keeping their Dulles hub so they pay less than what Dulles airport actually costs

  13. Mark,
    United CONNECTS more passengers via EWR than DL does via JFK and LGA.
    Delta carries more LOCAL NYC passengers to/from NYC than UA but UA still gets higher revenue because UA has more longhaul domestic markets and more international markets.
    A big reason for UA’s higher international revenue was its larger Latin American and Asian route system – but DL is adding S. America (now will fly EZE and GIG even seasonally which UA is not doing) and Asia but UA can’t or is not flying PEK, PVG, HKG and BOM – so UA’s longhaul international revenue is falling.
    And while the longer range 787-9 might allow UA to restart some of those routes, they will likely have to do it with an even more premium configuration.
    The A350-900s that Delta is getting can fly further than the 787-9 will be able to do and do it with 10 more passengers than United has on its current configuration. The A350-1000 – which Delta is certain to order – will have even more range and more capacity. The chances that United in five years will be in the privileged international position they had pre-covid is slim.

    there is no doubt that there is corruption at the AIRPORT in Atlanta. You are grasping for straws if you think that Delta is benefitting or driving it.
    You do realize that Delta agreed to move its own GSE facility in ATL so that AA and UA could consolidate their operations all on an expanded concourse T?
    of course, that is all about corruption on DL’s part.

    none of which changes that UA really can’t win in its core hubs when it plays by the rules. It is precisely because they have failed in their NYC strategies – including overscheduling EWR and walking away from JFK a decade ago – that they have to make IAD work which it only does if there is no competition.

  14. United is defending its turf just like every other airline does especially Delta. There are those who post here that have trouble with that distinction.

  15. As an ordinary consumer with no expertise on politcs, lobbying etc IAD is my far preferred airport (Cap 1 Lounge!) but if competition will drive prices down I’m all for having more options.

    As a DMV native I agree with @AngryFlier (and other posts before in other threads) about trying to dispel the myth (in general) that the location of both airports are not convenient for large swaths of the local population now a days. Sure for DC proper DCA is more convenient but the population closer to Dulles has grown massively.

    A couple examples from largely populated areas —

    Even a lot of Marylanders don’t realize the driving time from Montgomery County is about essentially the same to both airports and now with the GW Parkway construction to DCA until who knows when the Dulles acesss road to IAD is so much more convenient in my opinion.

    From Fairfax County Virginia — very large county but for example Vienna to IAD and Vienna to DCA by metro is essentially equal in convenience (one transfer). Driving wise I’d personally rather take the extra 5-10 minutes on the access road or 66 to IAD rather than deal with the annoyance that is 395 to DCA.

    We are lucky in the DMV to have multiple options! I had a flight from BTV to IAD that got cancelled but literally hopped on a flight to DCA departing around the same time. With only a handful of outbound flights a day from BTV I was considering myself pretty fortunate, if I called any other destination home I would’ve been stuck for the night.

  16. TDF,
    of course it is justifiable for any business to defend its networks.
    All Cruz is asking for the communication between UA and the MWAA to be made public.
    There are lines which cannot be crossed between private businesses and the government and open records should make sure that nothing has been crossed.

    As much as some want to believe otherwise, UA has crossed that line before while DL has not.

  17. Absolutely disgusting political corruption. The perimeter rule is a disgusting political pork; absolutely no scientific basis supports it. For years, I thought that the short runway is what limited flights. No, it’s the secretive political perimeter rule. 94,000 square footage of new TSA halls and six international destinations: BDA, YHZ, YUL, NAS, YOW, YYZ, and the lowly loyal flyer has to fly behind some deadheading staff and back in economy class squeezed between two undocumented border crossers escorted past TSA without passport or drivers license, to some connecting flight. Yeah, we loyal flyers got a raw deal.

  18. @Tim Dunn – we can’t quite say that Delta executives *don’t break the law* google “Jon Ruggles” if you’re unfamiliar.

    And Delta certainly plays hardball with politicians, gives the ones in Georgia that they like elite status (ok under Georgia law) and threatens those who don’t vote for their state subsidies with dropping their rural routes.

    But we haven’t seen them break the law in lobbying for government favors, or against the favors received by others. In contrast, United literally lost a CEO in a political corruption scandal, entered into a non-prosecution agreement, and paid a multi-million dollar fine seven years ago.

  19. Who thought associating Ted Cruz with an airport initiative was a good strategy? (1) If it was a third party, they’re idiots. (2) If it was genuinely TC’s idea to get out in front of this, then see (1) above.

  20. no, lobbying is not corruption. It is legal if all is disclosed.

    And, Gary, Jon Ruggles was convicted for his own personal breaking of the law, not what he did for Delta.
    “The CFTC said Ruggles used Delta’s trading information to “trade for his own personal benefit in personal accounts he controlled,” including in personal accounts in his wife’s name that he controlled.
    and Delta fired him.

    Now, tell us again, did or did United not try to improperly influence the PANYNJ for UA’s benefit – not the fired CEO – and is or is not Cruz asking simply for communications between UA and the MWAA?

    It is beyond childish for you or anyone else to try to argue about what others did (esp. when false) as if to justify the illegal actions of another party.

  21. “You do realize that Delta agreed to move its own GSE facility in ATL so that AA and UA could consolidate their operations all on an expanded concourse T?”

    Not what happened at all with AA at ATL. ATL and Delta wanted to push AA to concourse D but didn’t have the leverage since ATL also wanted the AA baggage claim area and only got it by AA consolidating in Concourse T. United consolidated long before that in ATL and was already consolidated in T before the GSE facility you’re referencing. That was only done so AA could consolidate ops between concourses.

    You act as though Delta was somehow acting magnanimously letting AA consolidate in the best concourse at ATL when that isn’t the case whatsoever. AA just had better leverage.
    I realize you hope that you can just spout fake things and hope people aren’t informed on the topic but c’mon now…

  22. “none of which changes that UA really can’t win in its core hubs when it plays by the rules. It is precisely because they have failed in their NYC strategies – including overscheduling EWR and walking away from JFK a decade ago – that they have to make IAD work which it only does if there is no competition.”

    Tim… you’d have to be the only person on earth that thinks United has failed in its NYC strategy. Do they want to be back at JFK? Obviously. Have they failed in New York? In no possible way. And to suggest United isn’t winning in all their core hubs? Really? SFO — yes (as much as any airline can when demand isn’t back 100%). ORD — Yes. DEN — Yes. IAH — it’s not as big as DFW but it’s doing very well. Even LAX they’re doing an amazing job there expanding to include the new T9 that’s coming eventually. United serves 8 longhaul destinations from LAX and it isn’t even their primary West Coast hub compared to Delta’s current 6 moving to 7 with PVG (eventually…).

    Again, I think it’s ridiculous that United is able to convince MWAA to subsidize IAD with DCA’s money but that doesn’t equate to United failing elsewhere.

  23. Based upon the face of what Gary is reporting, I wonder if we will see the current DOJ file an anti-trust lawsuit?

  24. Max,
    feel free to provide published reports of the plan that you say DL and the City of Atlanta were doing to try to push AA to the T concourse. AA and UA both were jockeying among themselves to be the carrier that ended up w/ the T concourse because BOTH had split operations.
    DL had a facility at the end of the T concourse which they did not have to move. ATL did not condemn the facility. Delta agreed to move its facility which allowed AA AND UA to have gates.
    Your fanciful attempts to paint DL just don’t square with reality either before of after the extension of the T concourse.

    And UA gave up its presence at JFK, a move that it later regretted even if under a later CEO.
    UA WAS the largest carrier in NYC by flights, revenue and LOCAL passenger boardings. They have lost 2 of those metrics. You are free to spin it however you want but UA is weaker relative to DL in NYC than they have been in 15 years.

  25. correction – push AA OFF of the T concourse and onto the D concourse where US’ gates were – just down from the former CO gates which caused UA to also have a split operation.
    And you do realize that UA/CO merged before AA/US so UA/CO started the process of integrating airports long before AA did? Whether you realize it or not, AA was last to the game, AA and UA both had split operations and it was UA’s plan that would have pushed AA off of the T concourse but DL agreed to move its GSE facility so BOTH AA and UA could remain on the T concourse w/ their merger partners.

    All you write is just another attempt at trying to find fault w/ DL for the strategic failures that AA and UA have made and MWAA’s potential illegal influence by UA – which is very different from DL’s rather public and well-supported attempts to add beyond perimeter slots at DCA

  26. @ MaxPower — Clearly, United is winning New York, but Tim Dunn will never admit it. Let’s see would your rather fly on Delta from JFK with their POS 767-300s, overrun mediocre SkyClubs, and smaller network of 70 or so destinations, or United from EWR with their Polaris 767”s, 777’s and 787’s, premium Polaris lounges, and massive network of over 130 destinations? It’s a no-brainer.

  27. It’s a very scary day when I agree with Rafael Cruz but he’s right on this one.

    One of the carriers at DCA should sue the hell out of the MWAA and UAL. Corrupt backroom deal!

  28. UA’s share of NYC local traffic is down. it’s international system relative to DL is the smallest it has ever been.
    You can argue all you want that they are still winning but that is clearly a step back.

    none of which changes that building out IAD is more important for UA than ever esp. now that DL has become the largest airline at BOS, a far larger market than IAD.

    UA’s leadership in the NE is very much being challenged.

  29. NGL, as a Virginia resident I’d just assume they told United “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Dulles is a white elephant of an airport that got bit with unlucky timing on an expansion. From anywhere not on that side of DC, it’s easier to get to BWI than to IAD (and this disparity is only likely to grow if/when you get MARC/VRE through-running). IAD might not be completely surplus to requirements, but it’s still enough of a pain to get to that I rarely consider it when looking at flights.

  30. Gene,
    you either have very poor reading comprehension or a pretty strong anti-DL streak (actually both) so I don’t expect YOU to admit the truth.
    DL is in the strongest position ever in NYC relative to UA.
    For Sept 2023, UA and its regional carriers operated 10,150 flights while DL and regionals operated 12,006.

    Never before covid was DL larger than UA; DL as of this winter will serve more of S. America. All DL has to do is add India and ICN and they will have neutralized the network advantage UA used to have.

  31. Tim, per Cranky Flyer a few months ago, UA is number one in local NYC traffic. It is the combination of strong local and connecting traffic that makes UA’s EWR hub the envy of other NYC carriers and why they make so many routes work that others can’t.

    As UA continues upgauging with hundreds of new planes, their lead in local and connecting traffic, as well as overall NYC success, continue to grow.

    Also, with the slot waivers the US3 have used, EWR performance has improved significantly. Last weekend, during the east coast storms, JFK had a GDP in effect, with average delays of 165 minutes, while EWR did not have any FAA delay initiatives.

    Anyone connecting between JFK and LGA on DL surely missed their connections, while UA customers made their flights, without even having to switch airports.

  32. Also Tim, why do you continually say DL is stronger than UA in NYC because they have more flights operated by regional carriers?

    The fact that DL has more flights while carrying significantly less passengers speaks to UA’s strength in offering more mainline flights to more destinations. The upgauging will continue, strengthening UA’s lead as EWR becomes even more reliable.

  33. Mark,
    you clearly do not understand the difference between local NYC traffic – what originates and terminates in NYC – and total traffic.
    United IS larger than Delta in terms of total traffic that it carries to/from/through NYC but Delta carries more local NYC traffic.
    Delta, quite frankly uses its NYC assets more for what they are best suited – the local market.
    Not sure why the concept is so hard for you to understand.
    and CF doesn’t disagree w/ that understanding because he reports total traffic.

    and do you not think DL is also upgauging and has the capacity to upgauge more?
    DL simply has more flights and more capacity to upgauge.
    And DL is offering a larger global network relative to UA in NYC than ever.
    4 UA Asian nonstops not happening now while DL has added 2 S. American destinations which UA is not flying.
    Not sure why you even try to argue.

  34. Tim, I suggest you reread the CF article. It clearly states UA is number one in LOCAL NYC market share. UA, not DL, has hundreds of planes being delivered, including approximately 100 since the article was written a few months ago, many going to EWR, which is how UA has grown even more in spite of a slight flight reduction that has significantly improved EWR reliability.


    Also, UA is currently running two flights a day to DEL, two flights a day to TYO, and will soon resume multiple TLV flights a day when conditions allow.

    All of that on top of the many international departures that not only give EWR more international destinations than JFK but also make UA bigger than DL across the Atlantic and Pacific.

    All while DL tries to add random routes like MIA-NAS to unsuccessfully compete against AA in MIA and make LATAM not regret moving from AA to DL.

    To quote you, I’m not sure why you argue.

  35. Tim, as another comment with the direct link to the CF article awaits moderator approval, reread the CF article from May 4. It clearly states UA is number one in LOCAL NYC traffic, and that was before UA took delivery of approximately another 100 planes, increasing their share of local and connecting traffic even more.

  36. There will be no fed corruption investigation of anything in Atlanta since that corruption is important to the re-election bid.

  37. Also Tim, thanks to UA’s EWR presence, not only does EWR have more international destinations than JFK, but UA is larger across the Atlantic and the Pacific. UA is also larger than DL in Latin America. All with hundreds of additional planes in the delivery queue to strengthen UA’s presence in all hubs.

    UA is double daily to DEL while DL doesn’t fly JFK-DEL at all. UA is double daily to Tokyo while DL doesn’t fly from NYC to Asia at all. When conditions allow, UA will resume multiple flights a day to TLV. All through the northeast’s strongest hub.

    All while DL tries to make random routes like MIA-NAS work to unsuccessfully try to compete against AA in MIA and make LATAM not regret giving up AA and their powerhouse MIA hub in favor of DL.

    To quote you, I’m not sure why you argue.

  38. Not sure about all the hatred but IAD is the international airport of choice for DC region, and much bigger and thus able to handle the traffic more. DCA runway is too busy approaching unsafe and causing delays. Population growth in Northern Virginia and the new direct Metro have combined to make Dulles passenger traffic higher than DCA and higher than its ever been ( https://www.mwaa.com/sites/mwaa.com/files/2023-11/9-23%20ATS%20%2811.14.23%29.pdf )

    More international airlines are flying to Dulles directly both Star alliance and non Star alliance giving the people in the region access to many more direct flights. Their domestic partners (United, Alaska, American, Delta) have similarly added flights to make the airport more of a hub.

  39. @Tim — I didn’t say you made up numbers, but claiming that I have poor reading comprehension is an unnecessary childish insult that reflects poorly on its author.

  40. Mark,
    the only place to get LOCAL O&D data is from the US DOT. CF and Enilria do not have access to it and they have specifically said that.
    Delta carries more local NYC O&D traffic than United whether you want to believe it.
    United carries more total traffic via NYC than Delta.
    Delta has access to more slots and more flights via ALL 3 NYC airports.
    LGA by nature has limited range due to perimeter restrictions which means a higher percentage of regional jets but 2000 more flights total on regional jets equates to more than the difference in flights that United operates on mainline aircraft.
    And you act as if Delta can’t upgauge – when it is Delta that started the trend over 10 years ago with the 717s replacing regional jets.
    And you continue to ignore the point that United is flying relatively less destinations from NYC because their 787s can’t fly to BOM, HKG, PVG, and PEK due to Russian airspace restrictions. Even when UA buys more capable 787s, they will put even fewer seats on them; Delta’s new 275 seat 283 tonne A350-900s can carry more passengers further than the 787-9 in its bestest and most capable configuration. And that is before the A350-1000 joins the fleet which will be even longer range and seat 100+ more passengers than UA’s most capable 787-9s.
    And then you get to S. America where you continue to ignore that Delta is flying EZE and GIG seasonally at least which UA isn’t flying at all. Having joint ventures in Mexico and in every major country of S. America except for Argentina gives Delta an enormous advantage which will allow Delta to surpass UA in Latin America revenue in short order.
    And United does not carry more revenue to Europe, TLV or Africa than Delta. They break out their Atlantic revenue into Europe plus S. Asia/Africa and Middle East (a non-DOT measure) simply to obscure the fact that they are larger across the Atlantic total only because they serve the Arab Middle East and India which Delta does not do. Delta carries more revenue – which is what matters – not destinations or number of flights across the Atlantic to comparable destinations.

    You can also cling to the notion that United will remain the largest but the only reason why Delta has not grown international as aggressively is because they have not had the planes WITH THE CAPABILITY to add much ultra long haul flying. that begins to change in 2024 and will continue for 3 more years of 359 deliveries and then with the A35K order.
    As for upgauging, every airline is doing it. Airport capacity is the issue whether it involves the number of flights or terminal space. Delta simply has more space in NYC and other airports while United will spend tens of billions more on airplanes and terminals to build that capacity and they still won’t gain an advantage because other airlines are doing the same thing and aren’t giving up their advantage – including on domestic routes where UA has been the smallest of the big 4.

    And the real game changer in the NE is DL’s growth in BOS. DL already has NYC on top of ATL – which is the largest US carrier international gateway and carriers much of the international traffic that UA has to carry over EWR or IAD or IAH. DL has added BOS on top of DTW and MSP – where DL has more international service than UA has at ORD.
    The real international differentiator between DL and UA is on the west coast where SFO is still larger than DL at LAX and SEA combined but DL is growing both.
    The entire notion that UA is going to keep growing while no one else will be able to grow is simply the stuff of dreams and not reality.
    and let’s not forget that United has a fleet that is 2 years older than Delta’s and is 6% less fuel efficient. Much of the difference in orders that UA has will have to be used for fleet replacement, not growth.

  41. @ Tim — Besides, B6 is much bigger than DL at BOS, so why go on and on and on about DL at BOS?Again, DL flies gargbage 767-300s, while JetBlue has the vastly superior Mint product. Yeah, I suppose DL will eventually have a younger fleet, but for now their fleet is ancient and crappy. United’s is old, too, but, again POLARIS.

  42. Tim, CF specifically said UA is bigger in local NYC traffic than DL. You’re saying you have better access to data than he does?

    The rumor is DL will order approximately 20 A350s. With all of the 767s they need to retire (more than UA), all new planes in such a small order will go to fleet replacement, versus the hundreds of UA 787s that will go for growth.

    Also, DL’s limited narrowbody order (relative to UA’s) mean that, to upgauge NYC, they’ll need to downgauge somewhere else, versus the majority of UA narrowbodies that will go for growth.

    DL has strengths, but it’s important to acknowledge where other airlines are stronger, if you want to gain credibility.

    Self-awareness is an important life skill, and when even some of the most respected bloggers make fun of you in the body of their articles (Lucky, Matthew, etc), you really should look inward.

    So many commenters make good points backed up by data in the comments section. Only you are made fun of. Why is that?

    I’m not trying to pile on. You seem like a smart guy who could add so much more and be taken more seriously if you asked yourself important questions.

  43. Gene,
    1. It is beyond arrogant to think that anyone’s personal likes/dislikes shape in the airline industry. If likes matter, ATL, BOS and JFK rank higher than CLT, EWR, and IAD. Please don’t make illogical and irrational statements if you don’t want your logical flaws highlighted.
    2. Actual data shows that Delta and its regional partners have operated more flights from Boston than JetBlue year to date. Delta passed JetBlue more than a year ago in local and total passengers and revenue to/from/through BOS.
    3. DL’s 763ERs have a better onboard product than United’s international 757s which serve more international passengers than Delta’s 763ERs. Fact. DL’s 763ERs have premium economy and two aisles and wider seats in economy – where most people fly – than AA or UA’s 777s or 787s.
    4. No other major global airline has the same business class product on their entire fleet and UA does not either including on their 757s and does not get a revenue premium for doing it even on their widebody fleet.
    5. DL uses the 767-300ER on heavily leisure routes, as a supplement to A330s, 764 and A350s which do have PS and competitive business class products. UA Polaris is not even competitive on a hard product basis with the Delta One Suite on the 339 and 359.
    6. The significance of Boston is that it will challenge UA’s dominance of international in the NE and on the east coast to Europe and Africa and one day to Asia. AA is the largest carrier on the east coast domestically and DL and UA are both vying to dethrone AA with much more balanced east coast and NE route systems. Without a SE hub, UA cannot remain in the position it has as DL grows BOS. That is a simple reality.
    7. The only structural advantage UA has is on the west coast and in the western US but DL is competing very effectively. UA is trying to overcome far bigger competitive disadvantages domestically while having no real advantages that other carriers can’t duplicate internationally.

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