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Queens Chronicle

Delta closing in on a LaGuardia hub

Airline plans massive service and facility upgrades for Queens ops.

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Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:38 pm, Thu Dec 22, 2011.

Delta is making its final approach on a deal that will grant it 132 new takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia Airport, a move that is expected to trigger a $117 million renovation and construction project.

Delta has agreed to a swap that gives US Airways 42 slots at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC, plus cash.

Both airlines also agreed to surrender a number of slots at both airports to smaller carriers such as JetBlue to satisfy competition concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year.

DOJ has signed off on the Delta-LaGuardia portion of the deal, but still must approve the Washington end.

US Airways also will receive the rights to increase daily flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil beginning in 2016.

“Now that we have closed our agreement with US Airways, we can begin taking steps to expand our schedule at New York-LaGuardia, greatly increasing travel choices for our New York customers and increasing competition in the market,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive officer in a joint statement issued by the airlines on Tuesday.

“We also look forward to expanding and modernizing our LaGuardia facilities as we create a Delta hub operation at LaGuardia,” he said.

Delta’s construction plans include connecting the existing Delta and US Airways terminals and modernizing both facilities. It also has agreed to phase out some older, noisier and less fuel-efficient jets.

Queens officials expressed confidence that the deal and the future construction will provide an economic boost for Queens.

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and Bronx) said everybody wins with the completed accord.

“It is going to reduce noise pollution and improve air service, but most importantly for our community it will create thousands of new jobs,” said Crowley, whose district includes the airport. “Delta’s investments on the ground at LaGuardia will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy.”

On Tuesday he urged the DOJ to complete its review and sign off on the project quickly.

The airlines will separately announce their expanded schedules in New York and Washington, DC in the near future.

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