Delta Airlines announced plans to eliminate its hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and that spells the end of Lubbock's Delta Connection. In an attempt to avoid bankruptcy, Delta is restructuring and it will mean the loss of all three delta flights out of Lubbock International Airport and a loss of revenue in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Director of Aviation James Loomis says, "The figure is $140,000 a year."
That's what the loss of Delta Connection flights will mean to Lubbock International in terms of dollars. In terms of people, it means the loss of about a dozen employees. Delta flights are expected to come to a screeching halt at LIA by the end of January. For Loomis, that's disappointing, but not surprising. "We knew something was going to happen, but didn't know when and didn't know what."
Toting a briefcase he received from Delta Airlines for his years of patronage, Larry Evans wasn't surprised either. He describes his Delta Platinum Member title by explaining, "Total program miles (I have) over four million on Delta."
Evans is one of the elite few who can call himself a four million miler. A Delta VP even treated him to lunch for being the top passenger in the Dallas area for two years in a row. Now, with Dallas Fort Worth on the chopping block as a Delta hub, he's worried about ticket prices. He says, "I don't like it. That reduces the competition. Some of the fares are pretty sky high in Dallas anyway."
For Delta, the cutbacks are a last resort, an effort simply to survive. Jerry Grinstein, Delta's CEO says, "Given the severity of our financial situation, there are no guarantees for success, and there is no time to waste."
As for LIA, the choice of carriers will soon be down to three: Southwest, American or Continental. A fact the general manager of Envoye Travel in Lubbock expects will make it more difficult to find a flight out of the Hub City. Dilford Carter says, "Sometimes, getting someone on a plane is a problem because of capacity. A lot of flights are pretty much sold out."
The good news is, in anticipation of Delta's cutbacks, American Airlines has already made plans to add a flight between Lubbock and Dallas. Depending on the market, they could add even more. Southwest Airlines cut a flight to Albuquerque recently but they will add one to El Paso soon. So, officials at LIA are still confident you'll have no trouble getting where you want to go.
Airport officials are hoping new changes at the airport parking garage will bring in a rough estimate of $150,000 to make up for their losses. The garage is under new management and free handicapped parking will be eliminated along with the senior discount.