Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DOT: LGA and DCA Slot Swap is a Go for Delta and USAirways

The DOT has just issued a tentative waiver that will allow USAirways and Delta Air Lines to swap their landing slots at New York LaGuardia and Reagan Washington National airports. As we discussed previously, this will allow Delta and USAirways to greatly increase their dominance at these two airports, respectively, by allowing them to effectively transfer under-utilized landing slots between themselves. USAirways operates a large operation at DCA which will grow larger while their operations at LGA will shrink dramatically when they cede slots over to Delta. Delta will pick up many of the small routes which US currently operates (often with small propeller aircraft) and be able to better integrate them into Delta's growing New York operation.

However, the DOT is mandating that US and DL give up some slots to "carriers with no or limited service" at DCA and LGA. 14 pairs at DCA and 20 pairs at LGA (a pair is required since take-offs must generally equal landings for a successful operation.) have been marked for re-distribution. To be sure, this is a small number of the 42 slot-pairs USAirways originally stood to gain at DCA and 140 Delta was expecting at LGA.

Let the jockeying begin but we expect JetBlue, Southwest, AirTran and maybe Frontier to be at the top of requesting parties.

And as we've said before, get ready for the final shut-down of Cincinnati by Delta as a hub or focus city. The airlines are only trading slots, not aircraft. Those 120 slots will need a substantial number of aircraft for operations - we bet they are going to come from the operation in CVG.

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