So, how does Delta's route network stack up to Continental? The short answer, it lags behind. Though, to Delta's credit, it does cover some areas that Continental doesn't even come close, most notably Africa.
Domestically, Delta has fewer flights on most routes. Counting mainline flights only, here are some samples:
|City||CO from EWR||DL from JFK/LGA|
Aditionally, Delta's domestic airport is split across JFK and LGA complicating the customer experience even further.
Internationally, Delta also lags. In an analysis for international routes to Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, Delta serves 22 markets from JFK while Continental serves 37 from Newark.
|Region||CO from EWR||DL from JFK|
Internationally, Delta's strength is in Africa where they see no competition from Continental. In Asia, Delta's only nonstop route is Tokyo while Continental serves Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Tokyo nonstop from Newark. Delta's South American presence can be likened to their Asia presence. They serve a single route from JFK, Sao Paolo. Delta announced nonstop service to Buenos Aires a number of years ago, but the flight never started.
In the last few years, Delta has had service to Mumbai. At first Delta moved the flight to Atlanta and then announced it was moving it back to New York. Shortly before it was to move back to New York, Delta discontinued it altogether.
Europe is where Delta competes most with Continental. Delta and Continental compete on 11 routes to Europe. Delta has exclusivity on five routes while Continental has exclusivity on 15 routes.
From a route perspective, there is no doubt that Delta is in a far second place. But, as with any carrier, it all depends on where you are going. For someone who travels to Africa or some destinations in Europe, Delta is a better option. But, from an all-around perspective, Continental has a better route network for people in the New York metro area. Once you start to factor in partner carriers, Continental's lead increases substantially.
As a corollary, American also has a decent operation from JFK. American has four daily flights to London Heathrow with three class service, something neither Continental or Delta can match. Additionally, American serves Barcelona, Buenos Airies, Milan, Paris, Rome, Sao Paolo, Tokyo, and Zurich. Plus, American has the best SWUs for all those international upgrades.