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SEA to Europe vs Asia: why not more O/D European destinations from SEA?

SEA to Europe vs Asia: why not more O/D European destinations from SEA?

Old Jul 6, 19, 5:10 pm
  #1  
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SEA to Europe vs Asia: why not more O/D European destinations from SEA?

From SEA Delta has a number of Asian destinations with substantial O/D traffic, including NRT, PVG and PEK. I have also seen pax connecting to those destinations from.other cities in WA and smaller CA / Midwest cities that do not have direct flights or good connections to Asia. It makes a lot of sense!

But can the same be said about Delta European destinations from SEA: CDG and AMS? Or they are mostly for connecting pax continuing on AF and KL?

I think at least AMS is mostly connecting pax and most passengers probably continue to destinations already served by DL metal from other hubs (I am assuming that majority maybe 70%+ of pax are going to bigger destinations already served directly from US.... or I am wrong)? Why Delta wants to route pax from SEA through AMS as opposed to ATL/DTW/JFK? Are SEA slots easier to come compared to ATL?I t CDG and AMS make a lot of sense for AF and KL for bringing their own connecting pax, so maybe they do not have enough aircraft to operate these routes and it works out for them with Delta and some profit sharing?
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But if Delta is building a hub / Focus city, it would be nice to see more O/D European destinations from SEA. Why not SEA-FCO? It's a holiday market, but it would probably has substantial traffic in summer + connections on AZ. Based on a small sample of about 50 my friends, a lot of people fly to Italy every summer from SEA and very few are going to France and nobody to AMS. Several French people I know who go to France from SEA would rather stay home if they are forced to fly Delta instead of AF (which explains difference in demographics I noticed on DL vs AF flights SEA-CDG and another point why AF makes more sense then Delta on CDG route).

SEA-LHR also made a lot of sense until VS took it over.

MUC, ZRH, LHR (in addition to VS) and MXP would all make some sense for business and leasure routes.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 5:24 pm
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It might have to do with the fact that SEA is on the west coast and it really doesn't make sense to route people through SEA to go to smaller European cities. That's what JFK and other eastern hubs are for.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 6:07 pm
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I don't really think there's a need to overfly AMS/CDG. By concentrating all the SEA originating traffic into the two hubs, they can support two flights per hub per day - if it was peanut buttered across other destinations, the viability of AMS/CDG would be affected. And the timing for the hub routes tends to be really convenient, other than the early morning departures on the return from Europe, so it's not like the existing schedule is driving people to the competition.

Also, SJC ORD LDR is right that SEA doesn't make sense for connections to Europe. From cities like PHX or DEN, Seattle tends to save mileage over any other connection point to Asia - SFO, LAX, SLC included. But to Europe, the situation is reversed - Seattle would be at least 500 miles out of the way, if not more. Not a competitive option, when that traffic could flow over SLC and support expanded international service there.

Finally, SEA is heavily constrained by the international arrivals facility right now, and Delta wants to save all the capacity they can for Asia flights - there simply isn't customs capacity to handle random flights to Europe.

In the specific case of Italy, I do think a SEA-FCO/MXP flight on Alitalia could make a lot of sense someday, if and only if they are able to get their financial house in order. That would also serve to help SkyTeam capture yet another new-airline-entrant incentive from the Port of Seattle, as an added bonus. But that flight, like AMS and CDG, would be propped up by additional connecting opportunities.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 6:11 pm
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Originally Posted by AntonS View Post
Why Delta wants to route pax from SEA through AMS as opposed to ATL/DTW/JFK?
In short, because the passengers want to route that way. SEA-AMS/CDG-XXX is a perfectly timed ten hour overnight flight on a widebody jet with Delta One seating, followed by a short regional hop that's usually two hours or less to almost anywhere in Europe. SEA-ATL/DTW/JFK-XXX is a five hour transcon on a lousy narrowbody flight with domestic F seating, followed by a too-short-to-sleep TATL hop. You'd have to be crazy, or saving a huge amount of money, to voluntarily pick a connection in ATL or JFK over the SEA long haul options.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by BenA View Post
In short, because the passengers want to route that way. SEA-AMS/CDG-XXX is a perfectly timed ten hour overnight flight on a widebody jet with Delta One seating, followed by a short regional hop that's usually two hours or less to almost anywhere in Europe. SEA-ATL/DTW/JFK-XXX is a five hour transcon on a lousy narrowbody flight with domestic F seating, followed by a too-short-to-sleep TATL hop. You'd have to be crazy, or saving a huge amount of money, to voluntarily pick a connection in ATL or JFK over the SEA long haul options.
Keep in mind how many seats there are in J vs Y. What do most people fly? For FTers - myself included - this is exactly the way we think. However, for Joe Average Flyer, thinking like yours doesn't even come into play.
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Old Jul 6, 19, 10:44 pm
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Originally Posted by RealHJ View Post
Keep in mind how many seats there are in J vs Y. What do most people fly? For FTers - myself included - this is exactly the way we think. However, for Joe Average Flyer, thinking like yours doesn't even come into play.
I mostly fly Comfort+ to Europe, and I still think this logic holds for the general population. JFK and ATL aren’t exactly popular experiences among Seattleites I’ve spoken to - they’re more viewed as necessary evils. And while passengers may not pay much attention to narrowbody vs wide body, they are attuned to the availability of 2-abreast seating sections, and DL’s TATL fleet of A330/767 aircraft offer a lot more of those out of Seattle.

Not to mention that the AMS/CDG routes tend to be significantly faster and shorter - FCO is a full thousand miles shorter via AMS than JFK, and DUB is 300 miles shorter via AMS even accounting for backtracking. So booking engines prioritize the European connections for kettles under most circumstances, unless a US connection saves a few dollars in airport fees (which does occasionally occur).
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Old Jul 7, 19, 5:59 am
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Originally Posted by AntonS View Post
Why Delta wants to route pax from SEA through AMS as opposed to ATL/DTW/JFK? Are SEA slots easier to come compared to ATL?
SEA-AMS-FCO: 5692 mi
SEA-CDG-FCO: 5701 mi
SEA-DFW-FCO: 6554 mi
SEA-JFK-FCO: 6699 mi
SEA-ATL-FCO: 7218 mi

Despite a lot of non-stop options from ATL, DTW, JFK to Europe, Delta will NEVER come close to the one-stop European options from SEA you get by routing through AMS/CDG. Plus there are even African / Middle Eastern connections available.

Plus, it's 15-25% shorter to do so. It makes no sense to give people longer routes with fewer options.
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Last edited by CPMaverick; Jul 7, 19 at 6:05 am
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Old Jul 15, 19, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by AntonS View Post
Are SEA slots easier to come compared to ATL?I t CDG and AMS make a lot of sense for AF and KL for bringing their own connecting pax, so maybe they do not have enough aircraft to operate these routes and it works out for them with Delta and some profit sharing?
Firstly, SEA is not a slot controlled airport. Gate space is limited and is a constraint. DL/AF/KL/VS have a JV (not sure if the VS is part of the KL/AF JV but not material to this discussion), so it's irrelevant who operates the route from a financial perspective.

Secondly, my own reflection from a recent trip is that DL are going to struggle to make SEA a strong hub for international to domestic connections. It took me two hours to get through immigration and customs last week arriving on DL 198 from ICN. Large numbers of people missed connections and the issues were seemed to be systematic rather than a once-off. It'll take a lot more than just having more gates to make SEA work as a hub compared to ATL, DTW or MSP. That said, SEA does have a very strong O&D market and many of these routes to Asian and European hubs could work with very limited feed on the SEA end.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 10:12 am
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I prefer sea-ams over sea-atl for my connections to other cities. The more time I have in a DeltaOne seat the better. And even in economy I've heard the A330 is nicer than the domestic planes

Edit: did I misunderstand the post? Is OP asking about flying routes like sea-fco?
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Last edited by Gig103; Jul 15, 19 at 10:28 am
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Old Jul 15, 19, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by evanb View Post
Firstly, SEA is not a slot controlled airport. Gate space is limited and is a constraint. DL/AF/KL/VS have a JV (not sure if the VS is part of the KL/AF JV but not material to this discussion), so it's irrelevant who operates the route from a financial perspective.

Secondly, my own reflection from a recent trip is that DL are going to struggle to make SEA a strong hub for international to domestic connections. It took me two hours to get through immigration and customs last week arriving on DL 198 from ICN. Large numbers of people missed connections and the issues were seemed to be systematic rather than a once-off. It'll take a lot more than just having more gates to make SEA work as a hub compared to ATL, DTW or MSP. That said, SEA does have a very strong O&D market and many of these routes to Asian and European hubs could work with very limited feed on the SEA end.

Fall 2020 the new International Arrivals Facility is scheduled to open at SeaTac.
https://www.portseattle.org/projects...ivals-facility

That should dramatically increase the viability of SEA as an international connection hub. That said, I still highly doubt they add any European destinations beyond SEA/AMS/LHR
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Old Jul 15, 19, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by kop84 View Post
Fall 2020 the new International Arrivals Facility is scheduled to open at SeaTac.
https://www.portseattle.org/projects...ivals-facility

That should dramatically increase the viability of SEA as an international connection hub. That said, I still highly doubt they add any European destinations beyond SEA/AMS/LHR
I suspect the more immediate impact will be a smoother experience for international passengers (both terminating and transiting) in terms of wait times and less risk of misconnects ... the physical gate space constraints that evanb mentioned a few posts upthread are still the biggest part of the problem in terms of getting more jets in and out; the economics of passenger demand that others allude to are the biggest part of the problem in whether DL or any airline will choose to add service to any other destination, domestic or international
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Old Jul 16, 19, 5:06 pm
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As a SEA-based flyer who in theory would love more destinations. I'm pretty happy that there is good service to LHR/CDG/AMS from the west coast. Honestly, Europe is too far from the west coast, always has been and always will be (until Boom comes along?!?). Having the ability to hit three huge hubs (and I'm fairly sure DUB on Aer Lingus) is a pretty good compromise for making Europe travel manageable. We have, incidentally, flown to FCO and ATH starting there. It's a long, long day. Would a non-stop cut out several hours? Yes, for sure. But if it came at the expense of the scheduled flights to the other 3, maybe too great a price?

The expansion of SeaTac generally has been remarkable and pretty well managed (yes, yes, haters are going to hate... I don't know what to say other than I've watched several airports get refreshed and rebuilt in my life and this one overall has been utterly painless compared to the others). And it's still going to be constrained by gate space until the end of time.

A huge boost to aviation in the long run would be... wait for it... truly high speed rail / Hyperloop because so much airport capacity is drained by necessarily frequent regional flights. If Seattle was connected to Portland/Vancouver and... lo, San Francisco, you could move in like 20 more Asia and Europe routes over time. And while that seems nutty today, China and India could probably absorb all of that.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 8:03 pm
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Is there enough demand for more supply? At SEA, DL is competing with BA, DE, EI, and FI (all with AS feed), as well as LH and DY. In some of DL’s larger hubs with more O/D European nonstops, DL operates even higher frequency on AMS/CDG. Example is DTW - AMS runs 3x daily year-round with a fourth seasonal and CDG runs 2x daily with a third seasonal ... in addition to FRA/MUC/FCO/LHR.

DL can’t even sustain the currently second seasonal 6 PM flight to AMS year round from SEA.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 10:11 am
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It's expensive to operate nonstop flights to Europe from the west coast (and to Asia from the east coast), partly because of the simple fact that these long flights need to carry so much fuel for the trip, fuel is heavy, and it requires additional expensive fuel to carry all that fuel.
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Old Jul 17, 19, 10:45 am
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Originally Posted by RealHJ View Post
Keep in mind how many seats there are in J vs Y. What do most people fly? For FTers - myself included - this is exactly the way we think. However, for Joe Average Flyer, thinking like yours doesn't even come into play.
Originally Posted by BenA View Post
I mostly fly Comfort+ to Europe, and I still think this logic holds for the general population.
Agree with BenA. I think that most people, regardless of cabin, would prefer a long flight on a comfortable wide body with complimentary meals, seat back entertainment and to arrive in Europe after the first leg, rather than doing 1/3 of the trip on a domestic flight.

The point about getting to Europe after the first leg is especially important because, if the first flight is delayed for some reason, it's a lot easier to get to your final destination in Europe once you are at AMS/CDG if you need to rebook. From there you have many options, including rail. If you are at ATL or JFK, you are much more likely to be spending the night.
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