The history of the Shuttle services from New York’s LaGuardia airport to Boston and Washington, DC is somewhat tumultuous, with boom and bust cycles that have mostly matched the country’s economy. Through it all, however, hourly service has been a hallmark of the operations. Delta is changing that starting in August as it pulls down frequencies on the NYC-DC route to accommodate new service between DC and Raleigh.
— Edward Russell (@ByERussell) May 2, 2016
Back in 2008 Delta transitioned away from the dedicated, roomier Shuttle fleet to the EJet operation which has carried through to now. In 2009 fares were slashed as well, though they have crept back up in the intervening years to reach over $400 for a walk-up ticket on the 214 mile flight. But demand mid-day is often weak and the company believes it can get away with cutting a couple frequencies in those troughs while still delivering on the promise of frequencies that makes the operation compelling for business travelers. As of 1 August 2016 the 11am and 1pm flights from LGA to DCA are off the schedule.
So, where does this leave the Shuttle? In reality, probably just a smidgen better off than it was before. Hourly service is great from a nostalgia perspective but dropping thee two off-hour flights likely isn’t going to put much of a dent in Delta’s operations. And adding the new Raleigh service is an opportunity to realize growth in a new market. Then again, the fares are lower in that market (same at the top end but more discounted in advance or even for walk-ups from what I’m seeing) and Delta remains in competition with American Airlines‘ seven daily flights compared to Delta’s four. Delta can also flow more passengers out of DC via LaGuardia to some destinations in upstate New York and New England, though I’ll assume that traffic is not particularly high yield.
Ultimately not a huge shift of the market in reality. But what it represents in terms of the “prestige” of the Shuttle is interesting. If you’re a dork like me.
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