Very good point, FlyCMH. Remember that revenue, and, ultimately, yield, is really what the airlines are going for (well, everyone except United that is). Even if they could fill a 777 on ATL-LAS, or upgrade service currently on the 757, you'd probably dilute revenue based on 250 super-saver fares rather than 180 super-saver fares.
Take a look at the results from the latest quarter -- Delta's RASM was off substantially. America West, while also having reduced RASM, was off to a lesser extent. Delta is in the position of having at least some its lunch eaten by Southwest, AirTran, jetBlue, and Frontier.
That's not a pretty picture. Even if Delta lost a little to each of those four carriers, look what they'd be giving up a little bit of:
- North-South traffic connecting through ATL (by AirTran, which offers an interesting promotion to business pax)
- DL Express Northeast-to-Florida traffic (by jetBlue and Southwest, with jetBlue offering a superior product)
- JFK coach transcons to Los Angeles and San Francisco (by jetBlue, which again offers a superior coach product)
- East-West traffic to major business cities connecting through SLC (by Frontier connecting through DEN)
- Intra-western traffic connecting through SLC (the little that DL has now, by Southwest via SLC, OAK, PHX, LAS)
Now besides international traffic, name one strength of DL domestically that's not mentioned.
So, maybe DL wants to come out swinging against these guys. It seems that the only real competitive ground that Delta and America West have is Columbus, so that's who they go after first. Will they go after others?
Maybe DL's strategy is that if they can't compete on costs, they'll just steal customers and fill planes. Now we go back to the dilution of RASM. Lots of customers does not necessarily equal lots of profits, and DL may be giving away the farm to up their load factor and drop their competitor's yield. It's been tried time and time again and it's failed.
DL needs to control costs, closely track capacity and revenue (as AA always has), and begin to give their customers a reason to fly them again.
I just got off of a DL trip last night, and while it was ordinary and nothing bad happened, it would have been nice to not have a SkyDeli and maybe a couple more inches of room. I can't believe that I'm the only longtime DL believer who is considering finding out what More Room Throughout Coach is all about...