Next week we're supposed to learn about the new low-fare business unit from Delta. From what I've been able to infer, the 757 will be the horse of choice, JFK will be the stable of choice, and Delta Express will continue galloping along. I don't know all the details that some of you may know, so I pose these questions:
If Delta Express sticks around, won't that create market confusion? It seems to me that to leverage all that is good about Delta, the Delta name and/or logo will have to be part of the branding. That in itself breeds confusion in the eys of the travellers. Take the hypothetical (but rather likely) scenario of an elderly couple arriving at Boston's Logan for their flight to Orlando. Can you just imagine them looking at the signage and wondering aloud, "Now which 'Delta' are we supposed to go to?" That prompts me to ask whether this new business unit will cannibalize DLX, leading to two mediocre business units and costs associated with them? If the answer to that is 'No,' then I'd like to hear an explanation.
Also, as a strong advocate of regional airports with MHT and PVD serving as excellent bookends for the Boston market, I question the logic of serving Boston with this unit as opposed to one of these other fine airports. Apart from the market confusion resulting from DLX and this new business unit operating from the same fields (see above), they seemingly run the risk of not getting the most out of those 757s if they are sitting in conga lines at BOS, JFK, PHL, EWR waiting to take off or land. Indeed, 'asset utilization' appears to be a major element of this new plan. Here in Manchester, I've seen Southwest 737s take no more than 30-45 SECONDS from the time their wheels touch to the time they're chocked at the gate. That ain't gonna happen too often (if at all) at the 'Big City' airports. And the regional airports have proven themselves, to a large degree, because of their air-side and land-side convenience.
If the aim of this new business unit is to go head-to-head with JetBlue and Southwest (as was implied in the WSJ article), then it seems Manchester and/or Providence make more sense than Boston. Indeed, the differentiation thus becomes pronounced: 757s versus 737s; deli-style boarding versus non-deli-style; and video/audio entertainment versus a small bag of peanuts. I say, if you're gonna fight these guys you can't do it from behind a curtain. And leaving MHT and PVD Southwest will make them happy to no end. Then again, Delta may be looking at Southwest as a horse that already escaped, and is setting their sights more on JetBlue...which has yet to reach a critical mass and is thus more vulnerable. We hear that B6 favors Logan, so maybe Delta is trotting out the old 'The Best Defense is a Good Offense' strategy.
Chris in NH