Delta Air Lines to expand presence at LaGuardia Airport

Delta Air Lines will be expanding its presence at LaGuardia Airport as a result of a deal with US Airways. The deal will also beget a $117 million renovation project at LaGuardia, which Delta says will greatly expand and enhance service for travelers while creating new jobs for Queens and New York area residents.

Under the agreement, which the Department of Transportation (DOT) approved last month, Delta will give up 42 of its slot pairs in Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport to US Airways and will pick up 132 of the other carrier’s slot pairs at LaGuardia (a slot pair is defined as one takeoff and one landing).

Delta says the deal will increase passenger capacity at LaGuardia by about four million seats annually and help solidify a hub operation for Delta at LaGuardia.

It will also reduce congestion by replacing turboprop aircraft currently operated by US Airways with larger Delta jets that can hold more passengers.

“We want to thank the DOT and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) for their final approval of the slot transaction, which will enhance competition, create new jobs, reduce air space congestion in New York City and greatly increase travel choices for our customers in New York,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive officer. “Our expanded presence at LaGuardia will double our available destinations, offering customers more frequent and convenient service at New York’s preferred airport for business travel.”

Anderson continued, “We also look forward to bringing substantial new construction and service jobs to New York as facilities are expanded and modernized to create a Delta hub operation.”

The $117 million construction project, commencing later this year, should take about two years to complete. Delta will take over and renovate the current US Airways Terminal, and bridge it with Delta’s existing terminal. A new 600-foot connector will be built to join them. Delta’s hourly Shuttle from the Marine Air Terminal won’t be affected by the project.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who has led efforts in support of this deal since 2009, said it “will bring many benefits to Queens and New York, including the creation of thousands of new jobs, increased economic activity in and around LaGuardia, improved air service and reduced noise pollution.”

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia, has expressed its support as well. According to Executive Director Christopher O. Ward, “this change could help to reduce the chronic delay and congestion problems that plague New York’s airspace.”

Additional stipulations of the deal include the DOT-imposed provision that both airlines divest 24 slot pairs in total to smaller airlines to enable fair competition. Delta will also pay US Airways $66.5 million in cash.

Delta’s expanded LaGuardia schedule is set to roll out next year.