This article was originally published on usatoday.com
Delta Air Lines is expanding its presence in Chattanooga, adding a non-stop route to its hub at New York LaGuardia.
The daily weekday service begins July 9 and will be operated by Delta Connection affiliate Endeavor Air on 76-seat Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets. There will be one flight on weekends, operating from Chattanooga to LaGuardia on Saturday with the return on Sunday. Delta already flies from Chattanooga to its hubs in Atlanta and Detroit.
Delta freed up the slots for the new Chattanooga route amid bro ader schedule adjustments at LaGuardia. The carrier is thinning frequencies on some routes to Florida. It’s also dropping another route altogether; Dayton-LaGuardia non-stops will end March 31 “due to underperformance,” said spokesman Morgan Durrant. (Local report: No Southwest, no problem at Dayton airport)
Still, Durrant said Delta is growing overall at LaGuardia, in part by shifting bigger aircraft onto some of its existing LaGuardia routes. Once the airline’s summer schedule begins, Delta’s seat count on LaGuardia flights will be up 5% year-over-year, according to Durrant.
On the new New York-Chattanooga route, Delta will have competition. United Airlines already offers two daily round-trip flights to its hub at Newark Liberty, one of the three big airports serving the New York City metro area. United’s service – United Express flights operated by regional affiliate ExpressJet – began in the fall of 2016.
Now, “after no non-stops to the New York area for about a dozen years prior to United’s service, Chattanooga now has two carriers vying for passengers,” writes the Times Free Press of Chattanooga.
The New York routes also come amid a record-setting run for the Tennessee airport, which shattered its all-time annual passenger record last year. It was the fourth consecutive record year for the airport, with Chattanooga Airport chief Terry Hart telling the Times Free Press he believes the growth has attracted the attention of airlines.
Speaking specially about the new Delta service to LaGuardia, Hart said in a statement that “New York continues to be the top destination for our travelers. We appreciate Delta Air Lines’ continued confidence and support, and this will take us to new heights over and above the 16% record-breaking growth we had last year.”
Overall, Delta remains the top airline brand at Chattanooga. Delta and its regional affiliates accounted for 47.7% of the airport’s traffic in 2017, according to the Times Free Press.