Aeroport di Roma

Detroit gains four new airlines in 2023; 70% of seats remain by Delta; Atlanta is the top route


Detroit welcomed its fourth new airline of the year on 15 November. It was Turkish Airlines, which began a 3-weekly service from Istanbul, rising to 4-weekly shortly and 5-weekly next summer. It followed the 18 May launch of Icelandair from Keflavik, with a summer seasonal 4-weekly service. While not long-haul, they joined the 5 May start of Sun Country on a seasonal service from Minneapolis (2-weekly) and WestJet, which commenced Calgary seasonal service – to feed Delta – on 26 May (5-weekly).

Icelandair DTW

70% of seats are provided by Delta

Detroit is, of course, best known as a Delta hub, which took it over after it merged with Northwest. Delta has about seven in 10 available seats in W23. This makes it the SkyTeam airline’s third-largest hub by this measure; it would also be second by flights. However, its Detroit capacity remains down by nearly a fifth versus W19. This makes it the slowest recovering hub of its top three, with Atlanta about -9% and Minneapolis around -10%.

Delta has 106 routes from Detroit this season, based on at least four departing flights. They include 15 international routes: Amsterdam, Cancun, Frankfurt, London LHR, Los Cabos, Mexico City, Montego Bay, Montreal, Paris CDG, Punta Cana, Puerto Vallarta, Seoul ICN, Shanghai PVG, Tokyo HND and Toronto YYZ.

op 10 Detroit airlines

Spirit is just about at a record level – and Frontier certainly is

Spirit remains Detroit’s second-largest operator, as it has been for over 20 years. However, while it used to be the ULCC’s second-busiest airport network-wide, behind only Fort Lauderdale, it is now only sixth. Fort Lauderdale remains number one, followed by Orlando MCO, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and then Detroit.

It is notable that Spirit’s capacity at the Michigan airport is virtually unchanged versus W19 – departing seats are up by just 210. It is still a record level. But notice fellow ULCC, Frontier, in the figure above. While much smaller at the airport, seats have more than doubled since W19.

Prague Airport

Frontier, which added Detroit in 2005, also has record capacity this winter. It has 10 routes this season: Atlanta, Cancun, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando MCO, Phoenix, Raleigh Durham, San Francisco (started 22 June 2023) and Tampa. Many launched or relaunched in 2021/2022.

Spirit at Detroit

112 destinations this winter

Based on a minimum of four departing flights, Detroit’s network comprises 112 destinations. That Delta serves 110 further demonstrates its heavy dominance and also the degree of route overlap, at least to bigger cities, hubs, and tourist destinations.

Detroit’s network this winter includes the aforementioned Istanbul and San Francisco. Additionally, there’s Newark, which gained a third carrier – Spirit – on 7 September 2023 (daily). Aeromexico relaunches Queretaro on 8 January 2024 (6-weekly) after last being served between September 2018 and March 2020; it is to feed Delta. That same new year day, Delta resumes Binghamton (daily). Spirit commenced San Juan on 5 May 2023, and it briefly returns on 14 February 2024 (daily).

Atlanta remains Detroit’s leading market, as normal. In the first week of December, the 1,000-km airport pair has 108 departing flights: Delta (73-weekly; a real hub-to-hub market), Spirit (28) and Frontier (daily).

Top 10 Detroit destinations