US regulators have granted American Airlines 11 new frequencies available for flights to Brazil while at the same time rejecting a request by Delta to serve Sao Paulo.
The total 14 frequencies, which become available in October of this year, are part of an expanded service offering that became available at the conclusion of a new agreement between the USA and Brazil in June 2008.
American sought 11 frequencies to offer daily flights from New York JFK to Rio de Janeiro and four weekly flights from Miami to Brasilia.
Delta lobbied for five frequencies to serve a Detroit-Sao Paulo pairing. However, Sao Paulo Guarulhos International airport is excluded from the current pool of frequencies due to infrastructure constraints at the airport.
Delta was aware of the Sao Paulo restriction, but argued that ultimately the frequencies could be used for Sao Paulo, and urged regulators to consider the best long-term use of the frequencies in their allocation evaluations.
American objected to Delta's request, arguing the Atlanta-based carrier's aim to serve Sao Paulo was outside the scope of the current allocation.
Delta then asked regulators to consider redistributing current frequencies it has for use on flights to Brazil to satisfy both requests. Delta argued the US Department of Transportation (DOT) could allocate four of its current 10 frequencies, which are more restricted, to American for the Miami-Brasilia flights.
DOT has denied all of Delta's proposals, reasoning that it has a long-standing policy not to allocate limited-entry rights to carriers that do not have firm start dates for service.
The agency also believes it is illogical to transfer Delta's current frequencies that have more restrictions to American. "We invited applications for unrestricted frequencies," says DOT. "To then instead award restricted frequencies is not consistent with the more liberal rights received by the United States in the bilateral agreement [with Brazil]."
Three US-Brazil frequencies remain available for allocation to US carriers.