From mask requirements to alcohol bans, major airlines in the U.S. have had to work quickly to adapt to the ever-evolving COVID pandemic. Traveler behavior has been hard to predict as well. When the pandemic first started last year, many people in the U.S. canceled and postponed their travel plans, and while travel has since bounced back, the new Omicron variant has some people deferring plans once more. As airlines look at their upcoming schedules, the unpredictability of the moment along with staffing challenges has prompted some carriers to make major changes. In November, United Airlines announced it would be dropping 11 cities from its line-up, while American Airlines has revealed plans to cut 27 flight routes throughout 2022. And now, Delta just announced that it has dropped 10 flights. Read on to find out which routes were just removed from the airline’s service, effective immediately.
Delta Air Lines has taken the axe to 10 different flight routes in the U.S., according to The Points Guy. A carrier spokesperson for the airline confirmed to the news outlet that the flights have been dropped. Delta is no longer flying from Atlanta, Georgia, to Rochester, Minnesota, as well as from Boston, Massachusetts, to Bermuda. Three routes were dropped from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota as well, going to Lansing, Michigan; Freeland, Michigan; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Delta will also no longer operate flights to the following five cities from Salt Lake City, Utah: Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Delta’s latest cut largely affects its regional network, as all but four of the dropped routes were operated by the company’s regional affiliates, per The Points Guy. Of the remaining six flights, three were operated by SkyWest and three were operated by Endeavor Air.
“We continue to evaluate our network and make changes in line with customer demand, as we have throughout the pandemic,” a Delta spokesperson told The Points Guy. Most of the dropped routes have not operated since the start of the pandemic, according to Insider. Flight routes from Atlanta to Rochester and Salt Lake City to Des Moines were restarted but have now been suspended, while flights from Salt Lake City to Cleveland will only operate over the Christmas holiday.
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The Minneapolis-St. Paul and Salt Lake City hubs have been hit the hardest by Delta’s recent cuts. According to The Points Guy, 70 percent of the 10 dropped flight routes affected service that touched one of these airports. But the airline had already slashed these networks earlier this month. On Dec. 12, The Points Guy reported that Delta Air Lines had just cut flights from Minneapolis-Saint Paul to Great Falls, Montana; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Marquette County, Michigan. At the same time, the airline had also cut flights from Salt Lake City to Cody, Wyoming; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
During a Senate hearing on Dec. 15, United CEO Scott Kirby said that the airline was dropping some of its small markets because of a pilot shortage. According to Kirby, the airline has about 100 regional planes grounded because there is not enough staff to operate the flights. The pilot shortage is a combined result of COVID and the mandatory requirement that U.S. pilots retire once they are 65 years old. Alongside early retirements driven by the pandemic, around 27,000 pilots are set to retire due to age over the next decade at Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines, The Points Guy reported.
And while Delta hasn’t explicitly said it cut flights because of a lack of pilots, airline officials have discussed the pilot shortage. “We aren’t able to serve every place that we’d like to,” John Laughter, Delta’s operations chief, said during the Senate hearing, as reported by NBC-affiliate KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado. He added that he thinks a current pilot shortage will be “short-lived” and the airline will be continuously evaluating when to restore routes, with hopeful recovery happening sometime in 2022.
“And so as always, these cities—we desire to serve them. And so I think that is part of our continual analysis to see when we can get back in there. And we have resumed service to some places that were suspended during the pandemic,” Laughter added.