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Delta Increases Footprint in Austin with Three New Routes

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

Updated with flight schedules on December 16th, 2023.


Delta can't seem to decide what it wants to do with Austin. It was announced as a focus city prior to the pandemic but flying was scaled back to hub-only routes during and immediately after. A few months ago they announced new routes to Orlando and Las Vegas, the first non hub/focus city destinations from the airport, and today they announced another large expansion with some real head scratchers.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-100 at Austin Bergstrom International Airport
Expect to see more Delta planes in Austin soon.

New Routes

The first new route, and the one that makes the most sense, will connect Austin and Nashville with three daily flights. Delta will utilize regional jets featuring First Class, Comfort+, and Economy seating on the route though equipment type and schedules haven't been announced yet. The airline will compete head to head with American and Southwest on this route connecting the two cities famous for their live music.


While Nashville makes sense to me, it it an extremely popular leisure destination along with Austin and should pick up O/D traffic on both ends, the other two routes are very confusing.


Delta is planning to fly 3x daily between Austin and both Midland-Odessa (MAF) and McAllen (MFE) Texas. The airline will also utilize regional jets featuring First Class, Comfort+, and Economy seating on the route. They will face no competition on the AUS-MFE route and go head to head against Southwest on the AUS-MAF route (though I wouldn't be surprised to see Southwest retaliate here).


The flghts will operate with the following schedule, all utilizing CRJ-900 aircraft:

Austin (AUS) to Midland/Odessa (MAF)

DL 5534 Departs: 10:45a Arrives: 12:00p

DL 5524 Departs: 3:30p Arrives: 4:45p

DL 5458 Departs: 10:30p Arrives: 11:45p


Midland/Odessa (MAF) to Austin (AUS)

DL 5522 Departs: 5:45a Arrives: 7:00a

DL 4899 Departs: 12:45p Arrives: 2:00p

DL 5459 Departs: 5:25p Arrives: 6:40p


Austin (AUS) to McAllen (MFE)

DL 5505 Departs: 10:45a Arrives: 12:00p

DL 5512 Departs: 3:40p Arrives: 4:55p

DL 5506 Departs: 10:30p Arrives: 11:45p


McAllen (MFE) to Austin (AUS)

DL 5514 Departs: 5:45a Arrives: 7:00a

DL 5505 Departs: 12:45p Arrives: 2:00p

DL 5509 Departs 5:35p Arrives: 6:50p


While these flights are currently on sale, the First Class cabin is zeroed out for all dates and frequencies that I looked at. Only Economy and Comfort+ are available for booking.


The airine touts the proxemity to leisure destinations such as Big Bend National Park and South Padre Island in their announcement but what stuck out to me the most was how they are putting a focus on connecting opportunities beyond Austin, including flights with partners AeroMexico and KLM. Based on the timings, the flights are clearly intended to maximize connections for O/D passengers in Midland and McAllen rather than Austin.

KLM Boeing 787-9 at Austin Bergstrom International Airport
The airline expects connectivity with partners like KLM to be a selling point for the new Intra-Texas flights

The flights between Austin and Midland/McAllen mark the first intra-Texas service from the Atlanta based airline since they shuttered their DFW hub in 2005. As the son of a Delta frequent flyer, I have many memories of flying through DFW growing up and I'm excited to see the airline investing in Texas even more (Even if I don't understand the logic).


Additional Frequencies

In addition to three new routes, Delta also announced an increase in frequencies on their Cincinatti and Raleigh/Durham routes. Both destinations will see a 1x daily increase with Raleigh/Durham moving to 3x daily and Cincinatti jumping to 2x daily.


Doubling Down on Austin

Delta's announcement comes on the heels of American taking the axe to their route map out of Austin, that had seemed largely experimental and grown like crazy in Austin's post pandemic growth boom, and partner Virgin Atlantic's withdrawal due to low demand. Delta built a large Sky Club in Austin, that is one of my favorites in the system, and then didn't do much with their 'Focus City' from there.

While the term 'Focus City' wasn't referenced in the announcement, this is the clearest indication yet that they are invested in growth at the airport and believe more service is supported. The airline will offer its largest Austin schedule ever in 2024, with a 20% increase in capacity over Summer 2023 offering almost 50 flights to 15 destinations and even more when you count partners.

Delta Air Lines 2024 Austin Route Map
Delta's 2024 Route Map From Austin

Summary

I was caught off guard by the announcement this morning, even moreso when I saw the new destinations, but, I'm excited to see Delta investing in Austin again. It will be interesting to see if these expansions stick long term and what that will mean in the future for an Austin Airport that is already bursting at the seams.


Also, I'm already booked on flights to both :)

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