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Can American overtake Delta at CVG?

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Posted at 7:55 AM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 07:55:59-05

HEBRON, Ky. -- For the first time at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Delta Air Lines has direct competition on one of its most popular routes: service to LaGuardia in New York City.

American Airlines launched its first flight to the northern Big Apple airport Tuesday afternoon on a 69-seat Embraer E-170 jet that officials tout as being more business friendly – but, more importantly, they said, it's an indicator of future growth by a legacy carrier at CVG, considered a rarity as low-cost carriers continue to dominate the local news.

Will Smith, general manager for Envoy, an American Airlines subsidiary, said the new service – three daily flights Monday-Friday and two each on Saturday and Sunday – will push American's weekly quota at CVG to about 250. It will also boost American Airlines’ seat share at CVG to 18.8 percent for the first quarter of 2016 compared to 17.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015, CVG officials say. The percentages factor in American's recent merger with US Airways.

"This is a big, big day," Smith told WCPO. "This is a big milestone for American Airlines; we're looking toward the future and expanding here at CVG. LaGuardia's the first step."

CVG officials celebrated the occasion in traditional fashion -- with a ribbon-cutting for good luck. Local leaders have lobbied for increased LaGuardia service for years, considered a top business market for the Greater Cincinnati region.

Before Tuesday, only Delta flew direct, with six flights a day, one of its highest tallies from CVG. Delta also offers six flights a day to Detroit and seven flights a day to Minneapolis and Atlanta.

American's flights to LaGuardia depart CVG at 6:15 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the week, 7:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8:40 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sundays. Advanced bookings were pacing on average for a start-up route, Smith said.

"We're glad that they could finally make that happen," Bobby Spann, CVG's vice president of external affairs, said last year. "That's going to make Delta better; that's going to make the airport better. (Ticket) price is going to go down."

And while Delta still carries more than half of the CVG passenger load, American is gaining ground. The new flights give the airline double-digit gains year-over-year in available seats for the first quarter, an increase of 15.6 percent over the same time period last year. 

LaGuardia becomes American's eighth destination served from CVG, in addition to Charlotte, Washington-Reagan, Dallas, New York-JFK, Miami, Chicago-O'Hare and Philadelphia.

"Can we overtake Delta? I don't know. But the future is very bright for American at CVG," Smith said. "We're really excited about the service, and future expansions here."

In other CVG news this week:

Low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines will formally launch its base of operations at CVG at 7 Wednesday morning. The newly-initiated, locally-based crew will pilot a plane bound for Fort Lauderdale. Allegiant plans to station up to three permanent aircraft at CVG, a move that will make it easier to add flights. Allegiant's second plane is expected to arrive in February and the third in April.

Details of the American flight schedule to LaGuardia are as follows.

From CVG:
 
Departs
Arrives
Frequency
615 a.m.
804 a.m.
Monday – Friday
200 p.m.
349 p.m.
Monday – Friday
530 p.m.
719 p.m.
Monday – Friday
745 a.m.
934 a.m.
Saturday
130 p.m.
319 p.m
Saturday
840 a.m.
1029 a.m.
Sunday
530 p.m. 
719 p.m.
Sunday
 
From New York (LGA):
 
Departs
Arrives
Frequency
1105 a.m. 
123 p.m.
Monday – Friday
240 p.m.
458 p.m.
Monday – Friday
830 p.m
1051 p.m.
Monday – Friday
1040 a.m.
1258 p.m.
Saturday
240 p.m.
458 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday
840 p.m.
1101 p.m.
Sunday