DETROIT (TheStreet) -- Sometimes in all the chatter about the decline of the city of Detroit and the decline of commercial aviation's Midwest hubs, the story of Detroit Metro Airport gets lost.
The announcement on Thursday that Spirit (SAVE) will add Minneapolis service is a sign that the airport is flourishing. But it is just one of many good signs at Delta's (DAL) second-largest hub. At Detroit Metro, Delta operates 450 peak daily operations to 132 destinations.
Alaska (ALK) announced Tuesday it will fly Seattle-Detroit. In December, Detroit Metro traffic grew 7.4%. Other recently announced new service includes Delta's second daily London Heathrow flight, starting this summer; the start of JetBlue (JBLU) Boston-Detroit service in March; and a Frontier flight to Wilmington, Del., service in April.
Perhaps the most striking fact about Detroit Metro is that its No. 1 international destination, in terms of revenue, is Shanghai. Delta flies daily to Shanghai with a 269-seat Boeing 777LR. According to airport stats, the Shanghai market produces about $71 million in annual revenue, counting tickets sold at both ends.
Also, 34% of the Detroit traffic originates locally in Detroit, the highest percentage of locally originating traffic for any of Detroit's international flights, obviously a result of auto industry traffic. GM (GM) is the largest automaker in China and Ford (F) is growing rapidly in China, with February sales up 53%. Both have their China headquarters in Shanghai.
How frustrating it was for Detroit Airport executives to recently read a story about the shutdown of United's (UAL)Cleveland hub which also mentioned, in passing, that the Detroit hub has suffered as well. Also, at times, people wonder whether the airport is affiliated with the bankrupt city. It isn't.
"People seem to focus on Detroit (city's) financial situation," said Joe Cambron, director of air service development for Detroit Metro. "But the economy has really turned around here, and we've been getting new service."