With slot swap in limbo, Delta and US Airways expand

By Michael Fabey

Delta and US Airways insist it’s a coincidence that expansion plans announced independently this month involve takeoff and landing slots that likely would have been part of the two airlines’ proposed slot swap, which is currently stuck in legal limbo as a result of federal involvement.

Delta detailed plans earlier this month to boost its Washington Reagan National service, while US Airways released its own schedule for increased flights out of New York LaGuardia.

The Transportation Department approved the swap, but only on the condition that the airlines agree to relinquish some of their slots through a blind auction. The airlines have appealed the DOT decision, arguing this month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that by asserting regulatory control over the slots, the agency is illegally taking their property.

Aviation bloggers such as the CrankyFlier say the airlines have expanded their respective networks in Washington and New York airports because the slot-swap deal is now dead.

Delta and US Airways said that’s not true; the airlines said they’re waiting for the outcome of their appeal.

But that could take a year or more. In the meantime, the airlines are using the slots to incrementally expand service at the airports.

Delta plans to start new nonstop Delta or Delta Connection daily roundtrip flights from Washington Reagan to Hartford, Conn.; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Orlando; Tampa; and St. Louis. In all, the expansion totals 21 new flights.

Delta also said it would add five flights to its Washington-Boston service, bringing the total to 12 daily roundtrips.

At LaGuardia, US Airways will add nonstop, peak-day US Airways Express service to Asheville, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Hartford; Lexington, Ky.; and Washington Dulles, beginning Oct. 31.

US Airways also plans to add one additional peak-day, roundtrip flight on its existing US Airways Express service between LaGuardia and Charleston, S.C.; Columbus; and Syracuse, N.Y.

The new and expanded service will be operated by US Airways Express partners Air Wisconsin, Chautauqua Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, PSA Airlines and Republic Airways.

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