With a major renovation underway and new partnership with Korean Air, Delta is eyeing Asia from its Salt Lake City hub.
Salt Lake City is Delta’s fastest growing hub. Delta has grown by 30% at Salt Lake City since 2014 (in terms of available seats) and sees further growth on the horizon with a new airport expansion project. The airport was built to handle 10 million passengers per year but 25 million passed through last year.
With the airport literally bursting at the seams, a $3.6BN expansion project is underway, which will not only alleviate overcrowding but allow for more international flights.
As early as January, Delta CEO Ed Bastian hinted at new service to Seoul, South Korea. Earlier this week, Delta acquired a stake in Korean Air. Addressing the new relationship in the context of SLC, Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Network Planning, told the Salt Lake City Tribune that service to Seoul is “on our drawing board.”
Delta tried service to Tokyo Narita from Salt Lake City in the past, but it failed. Then, Delta blamed the lack of connecting options from Narita. Delta once maintained a hub at Tokyo Narita but has never had a Japanese partner. Now, Esposito points to Korean Air offering connections to over 50 “unique destinations” beyond Seoul.
Meanwhile, even if Delta does not add a Seoul flight it will continue to expand in Salt Lake City. Espoisito explained this is not so much through new flights, but by more mainline flights with larger aircrafts. Already, 85% of Delta flights are on mainline and that number will rise. Delta is retiring its 50-seat regional jet and will be using its new Airbus A220 jet for more shorthaul routes.
The hints from both Bastian and Espoisito show, at the very least, that Delta is seriously considering service to Seoul.
Would you fly Delta from Salt Lake City to Seoul?
image: Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons