Delta and US Airways Swap for Fun and Profit

By | August 12, 2009
Washington National Airport, on the Potomac river
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US Airways will be transferring 125 pairs of slots currently used to provide US Airways Express service at LaGuardia to Delta Air Lines. They will be getting 42 pairs of slots at Washington National. The plan will allow US Airways to expand service at National Airport and acquire the rights to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil and Tokyo, Japan.

When they are done cutting Express service at LaGuardia, they will operate up to 72 peak-day flights, and be the third-largest carrier at LaGuardia, after American and Delta.

US Airways will move its Shuttle operations to the Marine Air Terminal, while service to Charlotte, Philadelpha, Pittsburgh, and Wilmington will operate from Terminal D. So, it appears that the two are swapping facilities as well as slots. The move to Marine Air is expected for them next year. Meanwhile, Delta will take the US Airways Terminal, consolidating all its operations into the larger facility. They plan to invest, once approved, nearly $40 million to connect the Delta and US Airways terminals, rebrand the US Airways existing gates, counters, and lounges, and created a dedicated premium check-in area.

Delta plans to more than double the nonstop destinations it serves from Laguardia by adding or preserving service to 30 communities, we assume many are the ones vacated by US Airways swapping. They plan to add flights to more than a dozen cities not currently served. They vow to fly larger jets to increase capacity without increasing number of departures.

What LaGuardia loses in US Airways, National will gain. US Airways will add 15 new destinations at National, seven that currently have service: Cincinnati, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; Montreal, Canada; Miami, Fla.; and Ottawa, Canada…and eight which do not: Birmingham, Ala.; Islip, N.Y.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Little Rock, Ark.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Pensacola, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; and Tallahassee, Fla. They also plan to use larger dual-class jets to increase capacity in a slot-controlled market. It will bring their operation at National to 229 departures a day, and they anticipate a 30-35 percent increase due to the new flights and larger aircraft.

Meanwhile, Delta will continue to serve National with the shuttle service, numerous daily frequencies to its seven hubs, and flights to small select communities.

Essentially, the airlines have traded market share at two airports, allowing each to increase its presence at the other. US Airways and its extensive operation at LaGuardia will be reduced, causing them to shed 300 regional employees. They plan to hire 100 due to expansion at National. Delta gets increased dominance at LaGuardia. The whole thing is subject to regulatory approval. While we aren’t sure this is best for the consumer, we can’t see a reason why it would be approved.

As a New Yorker, it is time to say goodbye to US Airways and hello to Delta.  Good Goes Around when Together We Fly…for them, at least.

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