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Plans for swapping landing rights do not fly with DOT

US Air and Delta to appeal DOT ruling

Jeff Clabaugh  May 05, 2010

US Airways and Delta Airlines say they will appeal a ruling by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration that would modify their plans for swapping landing rights at Reagan National Airport and New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Regulators Tuesday said they would require the airlines to auction off landing and takeoff slots at the two airports, rejecting a multi-airline proposal from US Airways and Delta that included giving some flights at the two airports to JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways, WestJet and Spirit Airlines.

"We are disappointed the DOT and FAA rejected a proposal that would provide clear consumer benefits in both the Washington, D.C. and New York markets," the two airlines said in a statement. "There are no winners in this decision — consumers lost, communities lost and our employees lost."

US Airways and Delta say the decision was inexplicable and has exceeded their regulatory authority.

"We intend to appeal this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals," the airlines said.

It is the latest in a yearlong series of counteroffers between regulators and the airlines. Last year, the two agreed to swap slots at National and LaGuardia, but earlier this year, the government said it would only approve the deal if the two airlines gave up slots at both airports to other airlines.

In March, US Airways and Delta offered to transfer fewer slots to other airlines than the government had required.

The Department of Transportation called the latest offer insufficient to preserve competition at the airports.

US Airways had said the proposed transaction would add 15 new, daily destinations to its schedule at National, including flights to eight cities that currently have no nonstop service. The airline had also promised to expand its use of larger jet at National by nearly 50 percent.

US Air and Delta to appeal DOT ruling
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