Winter isn't even over yet – although Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow this morning, so it might be over soon – but Delta is already looking ahead to next winter, announcing four additional routes to beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean starting late this year.
The mix of new and returning routes will all fly from big Delta hubs down to popular warm-weather destinations Barbados (BGI), Puerto Plata (POP) in the Dominican Republic, and Mazatlán (MZT) on Mexico's Pacific coast, according to a news release.
- Daily service to Barbados (BGI) from Atlanta (ATL) will begin on Nov. 23, while Saturday-only flights to Barbados from New York City (JFK) start on Dec. 21. Delta has previously operated both routes.
- Beginning Nov. 23, Delta will launch daily flights to Puerto Plata (POP) in the Dominican Republic from Atlanta (ATL).
- Delta will fly three times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays – between Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Mazatlán (MZT) starting Dec. 21.
A Delta spokesperson confirmed all those routes will go on sale this weekend.
At the same time, the Atlanta-based airline is also beefing up its service to Curaçao (CUR) – a popular diving destination in the Caribbean – next winter, with daily service from Atlanta set to begin Nov. 23. That's a big expansion: Delta has previously only flown to Curaçao once a week.
Delta's motivation for flying between Minneapolis and Mazatlán is clear: Sun Country. The Minneapolis-based low-cost carrier has flown that route for years. But as Sun Country challenges Delta's dominance in Minnesota, the two airlines are regularly retaliating against each by matching new route announcements.
Overall, it's a change in strategy for Delta: Targeting more off-the-beaten path destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. After adding tons of additional flights to tried-and-true hotspots this winter, they're now having some trouble filling seats.
“The Mexican and the Caribbean beaches just seem to have a little bit too much capacity this year, and we'll work through that as we go through the year,” Delta President Glen Hauenstein said on a call with investors last month. “If you look, those are up 20% to 30% across the board, and having little trouble keeping up with that – the demand keeping up with that kind of capacity increase.”
Hauenstein even suggested that the airline would consider trimming back its schedule next year to let demand “catch back up.”