The Department of Transportation (DOT) says it will allow Delta Air Lines and US Airways to swap slots at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA), subject to the condition that the carriers divest themselves of a number of slots at both airports to preserve competition. The airlines will be required to sell them through a blind sale to other airlines that will further competition.
“This decision will enable the two airlines to carry out their transaction while making sure competition is preserved at both airports,” DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said.
On August 12, 2009, the two carriers requested approval for their transaction, which would include US Airways receiving 42 pairs of daily slots at Reagan Washington National in exchange for Delta obtaining 125 slot pairs at LaGuardia. A slot is the right to take off or land at an airport where these rights are limited.
The DOT will require the carriers divest 14 pairs of daily slots at Reagan National and 20 pairs at LaGuardia and sell them through a blind sale to airlines that currently have little or no service at these airports, with Delta and US Airways retaining the proceeds from the sale, the DOT said.
Slot pairs would be sold in bundles large enough to ensure that a purchaser would have a sufficient number of slots to provide meaningful new competition. The final decision incorporates most of the major elements of the tentative decision announced on February 9.
While Delta and US Airways made a counterproposal in which they would transfer 15 pairs of slots at LaGuardia and 4.5 pairs at Reagan National to several smaller carriers, in today’s decision the Department said the carriers’ counteroffer would be insufficient to preserve competition at the two airports.
If the carriers notify DOT that they are proceeding with the transaction, the Department will issue a schedule.