Delta Air Lines won federal regulators' approval to build a domestic hub at New York's LaGuardia airport by trading takeoff and landing slots with US Airways.
The accord gives Delta 132 more LaGuardia slot pairs and control of about half the flights there, in exchange for swapping 42 of its pairs at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport with US Airways, the U.S. Transportation Department said Tuesday in a filing. The carriers must divest 24 pairs to smaller rivals, 16 at LaGuardia and eight at National.
Delta's advantage at LaGuardia over American Airlines, the second-biggest carrier there, will grow as it takes over most of the US Airways terminal space. Creating a domestic hub at LaGuardia will complement Atlanta-based Delta's international hub at Kennedy Airport. Regulatory approval brings to fruition a deal Delta and US Airways began pursuing more than two years ago.
"Delta clearly wants to own the New York market, and they're doing what they have to do to get there," said Helane Becker, an analyst at Dahlman Rose & Co. in New York. "Doing this transaction with US Airways has been a long time coming."
Separately, the U.S. Justice Department will continue an antitrust investigation of US Airways' acquisition of the Washington slots from Delta, according to an e-mailed statement Tuesday from the agency.
At LaGuardia, Delta's share of flight slots will jump to 45 percent, from 24 percent previously, widening the lead over American's 21 percent, according to a regulatory filing in August from Southwest Airlines objecting to the trade.