Maintaining minimal service to underserved markets is not charity, especially given the fares Delta, like all big 6 carriers, charges. Sorry, airlines are *not* entitled to seek the highest margin on every route. Airports are public facilities, supported by government (read taxpayer) bond ratings if not direct funds. The operators of those airports--the public--have a right to demand even minimal inclusion of medium and small markets at big airports. Delta can make all the boo-koo high fare margin bucks it wants on bigger planes with a few less frequencies to ATL from LGA. Don't they know bigger planes can have bigger business and/ or first classes?
Airlines and politicians indeed make good bedfellows, but since about mid-1999 their constituents have been angry enough over high fares and bad service that Big Air doesn't always get what it wants. Indeed, Congress opened slots for JetBlue at JFK because *their constituents wanted it.* Votes are the only thing politicians need more than money (of which latter Big Air indeed has lots).
As for US's existing service to Upstate, it's not enough. New York is by far our biggest market, and in the past we've supported two and three times as much service to LGA as we have today. And our population and economy, while not as good as downstate, have both expanded in the past ten years. AA at least has Eagle flights to LGA now, but again we're far behind.
Airlines are not charities but public facilities like airports are also not free milk cows.
Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)