Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) will add more than 100 flights and 29 destinations at New York’s LaGuardia by mid-2012 as it builds the airport into a domestic hub and seeks to dominate the nation’s busiest aviation market.
It will be the biggest single expansion by any carrier at LaGuardia in “decades,” Delta said today at a New York news conference. The airline is spending $100 million at LaGuardia as it takes advantage of 132 flight slot pairs gained in a deal with US Airways Group Inc. (LCC)
Delta’s growth at LaGuardia, coupled with a $1.2 billion expansion at John F. Kennedy International Airport, is aimed at winning business travelers who fly more frequently and generally pay higher fares. With the LaGuardia additions, Delta said it will offer more than 400 daily domestic departures from New York’s three major airports, more than any other carrier.
“Our expanded New York schedule is a clear indication that we’re making good headway with creative thinking and strategic moves to become the preferred airline for travelers flying to and from New York City,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in a statement.
By mid-2012, Delta will have 264 daily flights between LaGuardia and more than 60 cities, the carrier said. Flights will go on sale tomorrow for travel starting between March 25 and July 11, 2012, depending on the market involved.
The investments will also help Delta compete against United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), which operates a hub for domestic and overseas flights at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, and AMR Corp. (AMR)’s American Airlines, which has an international gateway at New York’s Kennedy.
Delta and US Airways completed their trade of takeoff and landing slots this week, with US Airways taking 42 pairs from Delta at Washington’s Reagan National airport. The agreement allowed US Airways to pare unprofitable flying from LaGuardia.
Delta will take over most of the US Airways terminal at LaGuardia that’s adjacent to its existing one, and link the two with a 600-foot connector bridge. It will operate a total of 26 gates in the two terminals.
“For the first time in the history of aviation at LaGuardia, we’re going to build a hub,” Anderson said at the news conference.
Delta rose 5 percent to $9.02 at the close in New York trading, paring the shares’ decline this year to 28 percent.
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