Fresno is the largest or second largest US metro area without ATL nonstops. Given the bump in passengers this year we should be closer to DL considering adding that route.
FAT-ATL would give DL one connection service to not just the southeast but also the entire east coast and many international. Service to that hub from FAT could compete even better with ORD and DFW connections.
I used DL for a pre-COVID international flight but the 2 connecting flights to reach ATL almost pushed me to other options. Given the new flight choices I'm not sure DL would be my choice now.
What other routes are underserved from FAT ?
After all of the pent up demand passes, and it will, ATL makes sense. While CLT could also help close the gap, I’d like to think in reverse mode, meaning, would DL’s SE strength offset the weaker DL FF base at FAT? Granted, DL has stepped it up at FAT, but LAX may only exist due to terminal construction at LAX. SLC remains a mix of 700’s and 175’s and traditionally doesn’t see a LF or yield anywhere near DEN. Unless they’d put a 220 on ATL, the next step up might be tough to fill and at a profit.
You make some great points here.
The comment about LAX is a good one, and it will be interesting to see whether it sticks around after T3 is done (which is nearly 2 years away, although some phases open earlier).
I can't help but look at LGB and see how it's been basically stuck with just SLC (although there was DL ER7 service to LAS for a bit). DL could follow that model too and upguage SLC before adding ATL/MSP. That would certainly fall in line with the rumor of September. LGB is obviously a different dynamic than FAT with slots, curfews, and a large DL hub a couple dozen miles up the 405. Also, OAK got and then lost ATL...not sure if/when that's coming back.
How are you estimating yields to SLC vs DEN? I can't help but notice how DL offers around 50 first class seats to SLC (not to mention all the economy plus), and UA has potentially never offered that many to DEN. Obviously the numbers are skewed right now with the pandemic taking a lot of business travel away, but going back to 2019, was UA/DEN beating DL/SLC for yield? That just seems strange considering DEN was mostly CR2s (with some mainline or E175s thrown in for parts of it) and DL was all premium cabin aircraft.
Based on your point about so much required lift to ATL and not many FFs, we might see daily SEA on an E175 first. It's a proven market unlike ATL (based on AS offering so many seats, not necessarily the once per week service DL is offering for the summer). That route would offer easier access to many PNW cities, Alaska, and Asia, and might help draw more FFs and develop the market enough that MSP/ATL would make sense.