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Delta to Expand and Improve JFK Operations

September 28, 2007 | Posted in: Airline News

At the beginning of the week, I wrote about how the government might limit JFK flights in order to deal with the large number of delays that airport has faced. Well, it seems as though Delta is eager to take things into their own hands…

We are likely to see a lot more activity like this in airports across the country, especially in the Northeast which is the biggest culprit, since President Bush is now “pushing” for action in the delay and cancellation debate (NY Times),

“Weve got a problem, we understand theres a problem, and were going to address the problem.”

“Theres a lot of anger amongst our citizens about the fact that, you know, they’re just not being treated right, Mr. Bush said. Some, he said, have been subjected to egregious behavior”

Delta announced that it will expand and add international routes out of JFK to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and Online Travel Review also reported that Delta is taking steps to combat JFK delays:

“Delta is actually trying to make operations at JFK more bearable. They’re eliminating all turboprop flights to ease the number of takeoffs and landings. Now about 2/3 of flights will be served by larger 2-class airplanes (up from about 40% last year).”

Using our FareCompare.com historical flight schedules, I was able to cross check this information.

FareCompare.com flight schedules shows a dramatic change from smaller to larger aircraft (removing turbo props) departing from New York (both JFK and LGA).

The follow comparison shows the difference in flights (along with seats) on a typical Monday in November 2007 versus the same Monday in 2006.

Total Seat Difference 2006 vs. 2007: 507 additional seats

Total Difference in Number of Flights 2006 vs. 2007: None


  • Embraer Regional Jet – Up 28 departures – 1,139 additional seats
  • Boeing MD-80 – Up 9 departures – 782 additional seats
  • Boeing 737 – Up 4 departures – 636 additional seats


  • De Havilland Dash 8 (Prop) – Down 34 departures – 1,258 less seats
  • Bombardier Regional Jet (CRJ) – Down 3 departures – 50 additional seats (traded smaller jets for larger)
  • Boeing 757 – Down 2 departures – 317 less seats
  • Boeing 767 – Down 2 departures – 485 less seats
  • Boeing 777 – same departures – slightly smaller seat configuration

The announcement of added international routes comes on the heels of the announcement that Delta was awarded a nonstop route from Atlanta to Shanghai for 2008.

I was interested to see whether they would look to utilize new aircraft from Boeing or Airbus or call on current equipment in their fleet to handle this new route to China. Kent Landers, Delta’s Director of External Communication, had this to say in an email response to our questions:

“Delta has 8 777-200LRs on order from Boeing that will be used to fund additional Asia growth. Delta can also use the flexibility of its existing fleet of 777-200ERs to fly certain routes as well.”

With changes taking place in Atlanta and New York, it’s clear that Delta is eager to establish an efficient travel experience for both domestic and international travelers. If Delta’s changes are effectively put in place, travelers out of JFK could see better on-time percentages and easier connections. I’ll keep an eye on the Geek Data to monitor the changes that occur with Delta’s equipment and whether these changes inspire other carriers to reevaluate their own fleets.

2 Responses to “Delta to Expand and Improve JFK Operations”

  1. J. M. Jacob says:

    The problem with Delta’s operations at JFK are extreme:

    1) There are too many Embraers and Bombardiers taking off from two gates. If I remember correctly, the terminal’s two gates lead to between 6 and 8 planes each on the tarmac.
    2) All these flights are scheduled to leave within minutes of each other. Consequently, there’s a mad cattle call for boarding. The bottlenecks are huge, usually causing tempers to flare even without extenuating circumstances such as weather.
    3) Even if the planes board quickly, often times they are delayed from backing up because of big boeings and such trying to pull into or out of gates behind them. I literally waited 45 minutes one day for 2 planes to get in and out.
    4) Delta’s schedule for these small planes leaves little room for error. Consequently, if you are flying on a late day flight, and there’s even a whiff of a delay, there’s a chance you will be directed back to the terminal to get a new crew due to the FAA’s 8 hour rules.
    5) Because these planes are small, weather reroutes may cause hte plane to return to the terminal to get more fuel.
    6) This point I can’t say with any authority, but it seemed to me that the big international flights got prioritized for take off over the small embraers. Better to make 40 people late than a couple hundred.

    All these observations i had trying to fly from JFK to Buffalo. I was stuck in the plane for 7 hours before take off. When I called Delta for compensation, the operator confided in me with one of those “between you and me” anecdotes: “Stay away from Delta JFK, especially the small planes.”

    My observations were duplicated twice more this summer from friends who were travelling, one set of friends JFK to Toronto, and another JFK to cincinatti, which is a mini-hub, causing them to miss connecting flights.

    Lesson: don’t use delta at JFK unless you’re guaranteed a large plane, no matter how much money you save.

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