The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) is pushing for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to disallow the permanent exchange of several hundred slots between Delta Airlines and USAirways at LaGuardia (LGA) and Washington National (DCA) Airports. According to the association, this unprecedented anti-competitive deal would create hubs dominated by Delta at LGA and USAirways at DCA, giving them unchecked market and pricing power.
“The pilots of Southwest support our company’s request for a free market process to take place regarding these open slots in two very key destinations,” said Capt. Carl Kuwitzky, SWAPA president. “But we also support the benefit to the public of a low-cost carrier providing true competition for flyers in these markets.”
On March 22, after the DOT comment deadline closed, Delta and USAirways announced a revision to their proposal: they would agree to divest some slots, but only if they could hand-pick four smaller airlines to be given those slots. Southwest Airlines was purposely excluded from an opportunity to bid.
“An economic expert estimates that Southwest’s service to LGA and DCA would save the public approximately US$200 million, annually, if Southwest were given the opportunity to acquire the slots,” continued Kuwitzky. “This proposal is a back-room deal specifically designed to keep Southwest Airlines and its low-fare model away from these airports permanently.”