Then: In 1995, Greater Cincinnatians were mumbling and grumbling about the alleged "monopoly" that Delta Airlines held over the Tristate area. CityBeat reported that despite rebuilding Terminal 3 at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Regional Airport and expanding the Delta hub, many Cincinnatians were driving to other cities in favor of cheaper fares. "Increasingly, Tristate residents planning vacations say they are finding it thriftier to drive to cities such as Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis or Louisville to catch less expensive flights to their choice destinations," Nancy Firor reported. (Issue of Aug. 17, 1995)
Now: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Cincinnatians still drive to regional cities to find less expensive flights. Even with the advent of consolidators such as Travelocity, Orbitz and Cheaptickets, airfares out of CVG are consistently more expensive than nearly identical flights from regional cities. Delta has done little to address the problem, instead offering the "we offer more flights and more options in Cincinnati, our second largest hub" defense.
But Delta might have to change its, um, song. The company recently released second quarter financial data indicating that, unless major changes happen across the board, Delta might have to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructure in order to become profitable again. Though the details of the plan are hush-hush, at least until later this week, the company has already asked pilots to take a 35 percent pay cut to help the nation's third-largest airline get back into the black. The numbers aren't pretty: The company reported a net loss of $1.96 billion. Delta and the pilots' union have yet to reach an agreement.
The Associated Press is reporting that Delta's CEO will meet with board members this week to discuss possible strategies for revamping the company. Though details haven't yet been made public, the AP speculates that the plans could include "a simpler fare structure or a loyalty program and higher performance standards and better training for employees. ... Delta plans to seek new markets, domestically and internationally, and new customers either alone or in a partnership. In addition, the airline will look to leverage assets and to deploy them in more profitable ways."
The immediate impact of Delta's financial woes for Cincinnati travelers is uncertain. Maybe, just maybe, Delta's loss will be our gain.
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