Delta Air Lines will cut just over 6% of its flights to and from New York City-area airports in August, following American Airlines and United Airlines in trimming their summer schedules in response to a shortage of air traffic controllers in New York.
Unlike its legacy rivals, however, Delta will only minimally tweak its New York schedule for May through July.
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The airline will cut a total of 6.3% of its August flights in the region, according to data provided by Cirium schedules and reviewed by TPG. The cuts were initially noted by Simple Flying.
The biggest cuts were to flights between Delta’s two primary New York hubs, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
For the month, the airline cut 51 flights from the route between LGA and DCA, roughly 37% of its previously scheduled flights, while the LGA-BOS route loses a total of 34 flights, just shy of 17% of its scheduled operations.
JFK-DCA will see 14 cuts in each direction, so 28 flights total, a substantial 40% cut, while the airline will reduce service between LaGuardia and Hartford, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (BDL) by 12 flights in each direction, or two-thirds of its schedule.
Other cuts from LaGuardia include routes to Maine’s Bangor International Airport (BGR), Denver International Airport (DEN) and Vermont’s Burlington International Airport (BTV), while reductions from JFK include service to Santo Domingo Airport (SDQ) in the Dominican Republic, Charleston International Airport (CHS), Norfolk International Airport (ORF) and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
The airline will also reduce frequencies on some routes from the Washington, D.C., area in August, including flights from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).
Delta also reduced its flights between the New York airports and DCA in September, with 18 frequencies cut in each direction to LGA, or 26.1%, and seven cuts in each direction to JFK, or 20%.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said that the cuts were made on routes where passengers would have other flights available.
“These adjustments were made in domestic markets where our customers have plenty of options available so they can be easily re-accommodated,” the spokesperson said. “This decision reinforces our unwavering commitment to provide the best possible travel experience for our customers.”
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration said it would allow airlines to voluntarily return up to 10% of their New York-area slots for the summer. It’s part of a coordinated effort to reduce congestion in the region’s skies amid a shortage of air traffic controllers and high levels of expected summer travel.
The slots system regulates traffic and prevents anti-competitive entrenchment at certain high-volume airports; each pair of slots allows one landing and one departure from an airport.
To prevent airlines from hoarding slots they don’t plan to use in order to shoulder out the competition, the FAA enforces a “use it or lose it” rule. Airlines must use each slot at least 80% of the time. Otherwise, the FAA can revoke the slot and give it to another airline.
Citing an ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers at its New York-area air traffic control center that will not be mitigated until at least this fall, the FAA said last month that airlines could choose to temporarily return up to 10% of their slots between May 15 and Sept. 15.