According to the Delta April timetable, Delta flies a potentially large number of people from Atlanta to Florida each day. For example, flights to Fort Lauderdale included 5 L-1011s and 4 767s each day. To Orlando, 2 L-1011s, 2 MD-11s, and 4 767s, and 4 777s each day.
Why all the large wide bodies? Is there really much of a demand?
Trunk-hub simplicity. The demand probably exists as Delta's somewhat large presence in Orlando is complemented by their hub in ATL for existential time-sensible connections to the rest of the DL route network.
Sounds strange, but NW does the same thing in MKE with 4 daily DC-10-40 flights (N132JC here today!) back and forth between MKE and MSP....that's in addition to their -9 flights, 727 flights and A320 flights...occasionally the 6AM is not a -9 but a 757. MKE has the unique pleasure of hosting every NW aircraft type, save the DC9-10 and the 747...though it occasionally (once every 3 months) will show in the form of a 744 operating as flight 83. Flight 83 originates in MKE and continues on to NRT with a gauge change, but once in a great (and blessed) while, the 744 begins in MKE and ends in NRT after the stop in MSP.
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Florida is just one of the world popular tourist state with a lot of sunshine and beaches all year long.
Orlando with 100.000 rooms hotels is very attractive with Walt Disney World and others theme parks.
Yes, the demand is there. FLL and MIA are some of the hardest flights to nonrev on because the flights are always full especially on Sun/Mon/Thu/Fri and sometimes on Sat. Just to South Florida's (Greater Miami) airports MIA, FLL, and PBI, DL has 30 daily nonstops to ATL, 22 of which are wide body flights. Now that's a lot of lift!
Don't forget ATL is very conveniently located close to FL. If this wasn't so, then DL wouldn't be so effective in the FL market. Remember, the marketing mix's four P's: Price, Product, Place, Promotion.
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From YYZ-ATL expect an MD-88 with meal service offered in both directions, usually a hot meal during B-fast and Dinner hours. Expect the 767-400 on the leg to FLL. Just a beverage service on that flight as it id only 1 hr or so in duration.
Not only the fact that it keeps the planes airborne making $$, but it also builds crew time up. The 777 and 764 crews usually fly a bunch of those trips to build expirience, time, landings etc...The demand does have a big part as well, but mainly keeping planes up in the air, and crew time.
Really no different than UA sending 747s on domestic service, as well as 777 domestic service, both of which are still happening (I think?)
Chrisair, yes, UA still uses 772s on a lot of domestic hub routes (SFO-DEN, LAX-DEN, IAD-SFO, ORD-DEN, ORD-SFO, ORD-LAX, MIA-DEN, MIA-LAX, MIA-ORD), although they have domestic-configured 772s for high-capacity routes (MIA-DEN and MIA-LAX use domestic 772s), unlike other airlines.