Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Delta plans domestic hub at LaGuardia
Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 9:31am EDT

Delta plans to start a domestic hub at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, thanks to an exchange of flying rights with
US Airways.

Atlanta-based Delta (NYSE: DAL) reported a deal with US Airways (NYSE: LCC) to exchange certain flying rights and airport facilities at LaGuardia and Washington's Reagan National airports, allowing Delta to expand its New York customer service by creating a domestic hub at LaGuardia.

The agreement, which is subject to government approvals, calls for US Airways to transfer 125 operating slot pairs to Delta at LaGuardia and Delta to transfer 42 operating slot pairs to US Airways at Reagan National. The airlines also will swap gates at LaGuardia between the Marine Air Terminal and US Airways' Terminal C to consolidate all Delta operations -- including the Delta Shuttle -- into an expanded main terminal facility with 11 additional gates for Delta customers.

Delta plans a nearly $40 million construction project at LaGuardia to connect the current Delta and US Airways main terminals; rebrand US Airways' existing main terminal gates, ticket counters and lounges to Delta's standards; and create a new dedicated check-in area for Medallion, First Class, BusinessElite and Shuttle customers. The project will be completed in 2010.

Delta expects to more than double the number of nonstop destinations it serves from LaGuardia by adding or preserving service to more than 30 small- and medium-sized communities. Delta will add new flights to more than a dozen cities not currently served by US Airways. In every slot where US Airways operates small turboprops, Delta will operate larger jets. This will allow more than 2 million additional passengers to use LaGuardia each year without increasing the total number of takeoffs and landings.

"Increasing Delta's service in the world's most competitive and largest air service market is a key part of our long-term strategy,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson, in a news release. “This transaction will provide substantial benefits to our customers, employees and shareholders in years to come."

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