Hopefully DL will do better on the re-instatement of the SEA-KIX route.
I'm skeptical, but the advantage this time around is the much increased feed available compared to what DL had in 2013 when they cut the route. We shall see...
The bigger picture is competition with AS. Not specific unprofitable routes.
In entering a market like SEA where AS clearly has dominance in (along with their international partner airlines), puts DL's yields in jeopardy. Now, if SEA wasn't successful for DL, then they obviously wouldn't have the kind of operation that they do have today.
There's no question that SEA is successful for DL, but they can only do so much there due to limited gate space and a strong dominance by a strong competitor, AS.
I do think AS has proven to be a much tougher competitor to "break" than DL anticipated. That combined with capacity constraints at Sea-Tac may have tampered some of DL's ambitions, but nonetheless, DL has still built an impressive operation and has become a formidable competitor to AS.
I think the past few years have shown that the SEA market is large enough to sustain both AS and DL hubs. I remember back when DL started its hub build up, there were critics on both sides saying that one is going to concede. So far there is no evidence to suggest that this is going to happen.
Part of I think what's helped both DL and AS coexist, is the organic growth SEA has seen over the past few years, with both airlines (as well as others) capitalizing on that local market growth.
There's a lot of sensationalism on Airliners.net. Airlines add and remove routes all the time in order to maximize performance, but for some reason when it comes to DL and SEA, when 1 or 2 routes are not successful and are dropped, there is hysteria with naysayers saying it's "proof" that DL's hub in SEA is failing, disregarding the big picture looking at the growth and additions DL has made.
DL has in the past cut routes from its prized ATL hub, does this mean ATL is failing? Of course not.
If we start seeing a net reduction in capacity by DL in SEA, then that might be a sign of trouble.
DL - along with likely every airline out there - is willing to lose money to implement a long-term strategic plan. They did it for years in NYC, and it's a good bet SEA is also money-losing at this point.
Making a long-term investment which requires upfront costs and losses with the goals of long-term profits, is not the same as "willing to lose money." When you as an individual buy stocks of a company, you do so with the intention of profiting, despite the upfront costs and potential losses in the beginning. You don't buy stocks with the intention to "lose money."
DL came to SEA with the intention of making a profit, not to lose money. That means they've established criteria on performance and returns and if those aren't met, they make adjustments as necessary, which is exactly what they're doing. Delta gave SEA-HKG a 4-year run, when they launched HKG, they probably were willing to sustain losses in the beginning, but not 4-years after its launch, which means performance goals for the route were not met, so they made the decision to cut it.
SEA-YEG, may or may have never been profitable for them. It's possible that at one point it was profitable, but with the new joint venture with WestJet established last year, it no longer is profitable and DL sees no signs of this changing, so they made the decision to cut it.
I don't agree with you that SEA, as a whole, is money-losing now. To sustain such a large operation for this long, at a loss, this far along is highly unlikely. If this were the case, I think we'd be seeing a lot of volatility in DL's SEA schedule with their route planners aggressively trying to boost performance.
Some people make it sound like DL is in SEA just to crush AS, for prestige purposes, to have a solid west coast hub besides LAX, with no real profit or performance goals. These notions are ridiculous.
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran