The summer travel season is underway, and Delta is again expanding at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as June marks the five-year anniversary of officially naming Seattle a hub.
Delta will grow by five percent in Seattle this summer, primarily through the use of larger aircraft on existing routes. Service from Seattle to destinations in the West region will expand through additional seats, with peak-day seats to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose — up 23 percent on average over summer 2018. Delta also launched its popular Airbus A220 aircraft on the Seattle-San Jose route and will launch additional A220 routes this fall, while the new Airbus A330-900neo, featuring the airline's next-generation Delta One Suite and Delta Premium Select cabin, will debut on Seattle-Shanghai in July and eventually expand to the Seoul-Incheon and Tokyo-Narita routes.
The growth continues the expansion of Delta's Seattle hub, which was officially established in June 2014. Five years ago this month, Delta customers and employees gathered at Sea-Tac for a gatehouse ceremony to inaugurate service to Seoul-Incheon International Airport. The flight was one of four nonstop international routes Delta added from Sea-Tac in a year in which Delta added 30 peak-day departures and 10 new destinations. That growth led to the official creation of Delta's Pacific Northwest hub — and the market where Delta has added more flights than in any other city over the last five years.
"The past five years have truly been a remarkable chapter in Delta's 85-year history in Seattle. The build-up of Delta's hub at Sea-Tac has brought ingenuity, choice, and a raised bar for the customer experience in the Puget Sound region," said Tony Gonchar, Delta's Vice President — Seattle. "What we have created here is only possible because of the support of our local customers, our partners at the Port of Seattle, members of this community who have embraced our partnership, and of course — our people, who are the best in the business and have collaborated across the company to support Seattle."
"We've been really pleased to welcome Delta into the airport family as a partner committed to our priorities of safety, efficiency, and top-notch customer service," said Lance Lyttle, managing director of Sea-Tac Airport. "Residents and visitors have more options at Sea-Tac Airport today than they did a decade ago, due in large part to more widespread appreciation of the Seattle-area's vibrant economy and culture and Delta's recognition of the potential of Seattle as a global destination."
Delta continues to be Seattle's fastest-growing carrier, having added nearly 100 new departures and more than doubled the number of peak-day seats offered since 2014. The airline launched service in April from Seattle to Osaka, its fifth destination in Asia and a significant addition to the Delta and Korean Air trans-Pacific joint venture partnership, which serves 12 destinations in Japan. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently reached a tentative decision to award Delta five more slots at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, with service expected to begin in summer 2020 pending a final decision by the DOT.
Saying 'thank you' for five years
Delta is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its Seattle hub with activities to thank its customers, employees and the community. This month, Delta employees in Seattle will participate in a series of five community engagement events, including a KaBOOM! playground build on June 8 at Puget Sound Elementary; volunteering at the Northwest Harvest Food Bank on June 12-13; a clean-up of the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park on Thursday, June 20; volunteering at Seattle Pride Fest on June 29-30; and creating care packages for USO Northwest in partnership with Starbucks on July 1.
In May, customers were offered a series of celebratory promotions, including $55 fares to select domestic destinations, Delta Comfort+ fares offered at $5 more than Main Cabin, 5,000-mile Award Travel discounts, a status match offer, 5x miles on Lyft rides, and more.
The celebration will continue with other activities throughout the summer and fall.
Competition drives investments in network, airport facilities, and the customer experience
Delta's growth aligned with that of the Puget Sound region. Since Delta established its hub five years ago, Seattle domestic airfare is down 9 percent*, while demand is up 39 percent, according to U.S. DOT data.
"Delta's investment in the Seattle market has been tremendous and it has created memorable partnership opportunities across our entire organization," said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. "From consumer activations on the rooftops of New York City to engaging travel trade and media in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, Delta's partnership with Visit Seattle has played a significant role in our growing tourism business from all over the world. We congratulate Delta on their success in Seattle and look forward to continuing our strong partnership."
The benefits of the competition Delta brought to the Seattle market go beyond lower fares and more flights and destinations. The experience of flying from Sea-Tac is different, too. Delta now offers Wi-Fi on all flights from Seattle and offers more flights with built-in seat-back entertainment screens from Seattle than any other airline, allowing customers to multitask and freeing up mobile devices for other uses. The 21,000 sq. ft. Delta Sky Club that opened in 2016 is among the best in Delta's system and has been named North America's Leading Airport Lounge for the last three years by World Travel Awards. In 2018, Delta opened a new lounge for flight attendants and completed check-in collocation with its joint venture partners in Seattle. The customer experience investments have continued in 2019 – three of the airline's newest aircraft types have started or will start operating from Seattle this year, including the Airbus A330-900neo and Airbus A220.
With Delta's support, investment, and advisement, Sea-Tac's new International Arrivals Facility (IAF) is being brought to life. The new IAF will relieve a facility that is more than 50 years old and not built to accommodate the demand Sea-Tac experiences today. The Port of Seattle's project will ensure passengers entering and departing the United States from Seattle will have a world-class front door when it opens in late 2020. The Port of Seattle and FAA also are conducting an environmental review of more than 30 Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) near-term projects that will improve efficiency, safety, and access to the airport.
"Seattle was an underserved and underinvested market when we began growing and establishing our hub. These crucial investments in Seattle infrastructure will ensure the next five years are about getting ahead of our growth and working together to ensure we can serve the needs of this region, and serve them well," said Gonchar.
Through Delta's joint venture partnerships, Aeromexico, Air France and Virgin Atlantic added service in Seattle, and Delta and its partners at Sea-Tac are now physically located in the same area of the airport. These fully integrated partnerships provide a better customer experience and allow the airlines to work more closely together to take care of customers than typical codeshare partnerships.
From community engagement, to network growth, to employment growth and profit sharing payouts - Delta's Seattle evolution of the last five years has been significant. See a by-the-numbers look on the Seattle 5-Year Anniversary infographic.
*Source: US DOT data from Diio for the average total fare on Seattle-originating domestic flights offered by all carriers for the period of 2013 compared to 2018.