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If you’ve flown to Atlanta before, it’s hard to ignore the hundreds of Delta airplanes flying in and out of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. In 2021, the airport has handled around 23.5 million passengers making it one of the largest and busiest Delta hubs in the world.
As of today, Delta Airlines has more than a dozen Delta hubs both in the U.S. and overseas. These hubs play a big part in the airline’s operational efficiencies and profitability, which in turn, also lowers the fare costs for its passengers.
History Of Delta Hubs
Some of the Delta hubs that we know today were inherited from former airlines that Delta acquired in the past.
For example, the Delta hubs in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City were a result of Delta’s acquisition of Western Airlines. The deal happened on April 1, 1987, and it was worth $860 million (around $2 billion in today’s time).
Meanwhile, the Delta hub in Minneapolis is a result of Delta’s acquisition of Northwest Airlines back in 2008 for a $2.8 billion deal.
Today, Delta Airlines operated more than 4,000 flights per day to more than 275 destinations on 6 continents.
The airline is known for spearheading the hub-and-spoke system to the aviation industry, where flights from smaller airports connects to a centralized airport. This kind of system is more cost-efficient and profitable compared to its counterpart, the point-to-point system, where airports directly fly to another airport.
Where Are Delta Hubs Located?
Atlanta has several hubs in the U.S. with Atlanta serving as its primary hub. However, Delta has also multiple hubs located internationally.
U.S. Delta Hubs
- Atlanta (ATL) – Primary Hub
- Boston (BOS)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Minneapolis/Saint Paul (MSP)
- New York–Kennedy (JFK)
- New York–LaGuardia (LGA)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- Seattle/Tacoma (SEA)
International Delta Hubs
- Mexico City
- Raleigh/Durham (RDU)
- Austin (AUS)
In case you’re wondering what a “focus city” is, it’s basically a mini-hub where an airline has significant operations. It’s not yet an official hub but it’s getting there.
Delta initially had five focus cities before the pandemic broke out and they were San Jose, Raleigh/Durham, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Austin. But as of this moment, the airline decided to drop the three other cities since they’re not as fast-growing as Austin and Raleigh/Durham.
Read More: The Complete Guide To Delta Sky Priority
Why Are Delta Hubs Important For Delta?
Delta follows the hub-and-spoke system where every flight passes through a centralized hub. This kind of system is used in many business models as it reduces overall operational costs.
If Delta was to use the point-to-point system where flights are non-stop from one airport to another, it would cost a lot of money, especially on less popular routes.
For example, Delta could offer a non-stop flight between Des Moines (DSM) and Dayton (DAY) but since these two cities are small markets, it might not fill up the seats which could result in a loss.
The solution for this is to connect these two cities through a midway hub such as Detroit (DTW) so passengers can just connect via a DSM-DTW flight, then a DAY-DTW flight. Yes, the flight time might be longer but the risk of having low passenger loads is lower since Detroit is a big market city where thousands of passengers fly through on a regular basis.
Additionally, hubs also allow Delta to establish a centralized work base for its staff so all mechanical fixes will only occur in that hub. This would result in lower manpower and equipment costs since Delta doesn’t have to hire extra employees or purchase additional equipment at every airport it passes through.
Why Are Delta Hubs Important For Passengers?
As mentioned, Delta hubs allow Delta to lower its operational costs so in theory, this would also mean lower costs for passengers. As much as we want to have non-stop flights for every destination we fly to, it’s going to result in an increase in airfare, probably 2x or 3x its original price.
Additionally, there’s another way where airline hubs help lower fare prices, and that is through hub attacks. A hub attack happens when a rival carrier tries to undercut fare prices on select routes from a competitor hub airport, and oftentimes, these prices are hundreds of dollars cheaper.
For example, United Airlines can try to lower their fare prices on routes between Los Angeles (a Delta Hub) and Honolulu, as a way of swaying customers to buy United flights instead of Delta flights.
When Delta notices this so-called hub attack, it will also do the same attack on United where Delta will lower fare prices on routes at Houston (IAH) or other United Hubs.
Delta Hubs FAQS
How Many Delta Hubs Are There?
There are 9 Delta Hubs in the U.S. which are located in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles,
Minneapolis/Saint Paul, New York–Kennedy, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City, and Seattle/Tacoma. Meanwhile, there are 2 Delta hubs overseas which are located in Tokyo and Amsterdam.
Do All Delta Hubs Have Delta SkyClubs?
All U.S. Delta hubs have SkyClubs. You can check our Delta SkyClub location guide for more information.
What Is The Largest Delta Hub?
The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is the largest and busiest Delta hub. In 2021, the airport has handled around 23.5 million passengers. The second largest Delta hub is in Minneapolis.
Delta hubs allow Delta to lower its operational costs, and in turn, pass those savings to passengers. This is the same case for all airlines and their respective hubs.
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