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Queens Chronicle

Delta, LaGuardia closer to takeoff

U.S. DOT approves US Airways deal; DOJ also key to $117M plan

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Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Thu Oct 27, 2011.

Delta Airlines has received the green light from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a deal that the airline hopes will result in a $117 million construction project at LaGuardia Airport.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed off last week on an agreement in which Delta would trade slots at Washington-Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., plus cash to US Airways in return for 132 slots at LaGuardia.

In a statement issued Thursday, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said the deal, should it meet approval with the U.S. Department of Justice, will allow the airline to roll out a greatly expanded service schedule in Queens next year.

“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,” Anderson said.

Delta’s construction plans include connecting the existing Delta and US Airways terminals and carrying out renovations on both buildings.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx), said he has personally lobbied Attorney General Eric Holder for “swift approval” of the plan in a statement released by his Washington office last Tuesday.

“This deal 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,” Crowley said.

The congressman said jobs would be created in the construction, airport operation and tourism sectors.

He also said that, as part of the agreement, Delta is agreeing to phase out the use of some of its older, noisier aircraft for newer, quieter jets. Crowley thanked LaHood for recognizing the importance of the airlines’ agreement, and said his approval moved everything one step closer

The Justice Department has approved the LaGuardia portion of the deal, but still is investigating the impact it would have on competition and consumer choice down in Washington under federal antitrust laws.

The Port Authority, which operates LaGuardia, supports the plan though it would have no financial commitment.

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