DL flows a passenger over the hub with the lowest cost. If, for example ATL costs $10 less per passenger than DTW, DL can save $100,000,000 by flowing 10,000,000 people who could through either TL or DTW through ATL. There's a limit on this, but DTW is lower cost than JFK or LGA, so DL would probably prefer to flow connections through DTW over New York. There are also benefits to ATL in scale, as larger aircraft, like those mainline types which feed ATL have lower CASM than regional aircraft.
<sigh> This is a.net's biggest myth. CPE is NOT a check airlines cut per passenger, but rather a simple average of the costs they've paid divided by enplanements. Here's a very simple illustration:
Fake Airport charges each of its airlines $3,000 in monthly rent, and $300 (regional jet) or $500 (mainline) per flight. The airport's only service is Regional Air, which operates two daily CRJ averaging 40 passengers per flight. At month's end, it's incurred $21,000 in fees and enplaned 2,400 passengers, yielding a CPE of $8.75. The following month, ULCC Air began service, operating a total of 30 flights averaging 200 passengers each for the month, thus incurring $18,000 in fees across 6,000 passengers ($3 CPE). The airport reports a CPE of $4.64 (a total of $39K in fees collected spread across 8,400 enplanements).
Do you see why CPE is deceptive? Reality is, DL's CPE is low at ATL primarily because of the volume it flows through the hub -- in reality, the lion's share of its costs are fixed at DTW & ATL, whereas variable costs are very comparable. If ATL chooses to spend $10B expanding, DL -- as its primary tenant -- is going to foot most of the bill. Meanwhile, it's stuck paying most of its cost at DTW for the next 20+ years, whether it uses the facilities or not.
This concept seems to escape the majority of the a.net community...
I know its bothersome to not have the growth of SEA or the scale of ATL, but DTW seems to come out pretty well from consolidation.
It wasn't cut like CVG, CLE, PIT, MEM, or STL were.
You do realize that DTW has between 2x-5x the local traffic of the airports you listed?
Only on a.net can the DTW community get critizied for suggesting another legacy inaugurate DTW-LAX while there's multiple active threads zealously hypothesizing CLT expansion. CLT is a market the generates roughly HALF the local traffic of DTW. But facts... those don't mean much here. All that matters is CLT=Good, DTW=Bad!!!
Yes, I realize that, sorry. If DL committed growth to its relatively unused (there are lots of openings midday and possibly mid-evening for additional flights to be scheduled) CPE would fall. Their DTW service pattern, like UA with lots of regional jets, and 50 seat CRJ/ERJs specifically, has a way of putting a hub into a downward spiral of higher costs, higher fares, lower passenger volumes, higher costs....ad infinitum.
I think DL's costs would fall dramatically if it reallocated growth to DTW (falling airport fixed costs AND operating costs due to use of larger aircraft). The Midwest isn't gone yet. As soon as DL stops this trend, they can start an upward growth spiral, lowering their costs, making fares more competitive, increasing volumes, upgauging aircraft and strengthening the hub.
DTW-LAX is a good target for AA, probably part of the reason why DL went to 8x daily, but DL would try to push them out.
For carriers other than DL, I think the following are some opportunities:
DTW-DEN 1x>3x daily
DTW-IAH More mainline
DTW-ORD More mainline
DTW-SFO Upgauge to B73H and add seasonal second dailu flight
DTW-LAX 1x daily A319
DTW-MIA More mainline
DTW-MCO Increase to daily
I don't hate DTW, I just understand that with the current way DL has set things up, they put themselves
at a disadvantage there relative to competitors and themselves in a way.
NK is now 30% DL's size in local O&D passengers in DTW, though. With that yellow and black competitive threat, though, they'll have to shape up or shape out.
I bet they shape out.
It'll be slow growth, not like SEA or LAX for DL, but from the large base of their current size at DTW, DL's hub there will increase, its NOT shrinking, DL will realize they have to work to maintain their standing there, and they will succeed.
They are very good at execution.