Delta enters post-merger fray for DCA slots

Washington DC
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Delta Air Lines is seeking to claim some of the slots reserved for “low-cost carriers” at Washington Reagan National (DCA) airport that will be divested by American Airlines and US Airways under a settlement agreement.

The SkyTeam carrier tells Flightglobal that its claim deserves consideration even though it is not a traditional low-cost airline.

“Our position is that Delta is the airline that can best provide nonstop service between DCA and the small- and mid-sized cities that aren’t typically served by low-cost carriers,” Delta writes in an email. “That’s why we believe we should be considered for slots being divested at DCA.”

The settlement with the US Department of Justice requires American and US Airways to divest 52 slot pairs at DCA and 17 at New York LaGuardia. In return, Attorney General Eric Holder will drop a lawsuit seeking to block the merger on anti-competitive grounds.

The divestment will likely create a scramble for access to the slot-controlled airports, with Southwest Airlines and JetBlue already indicating interest.

In August, Delta ranked as the second largest carrier at DCA by passengers with a 14.3% market share, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports authority.

Delta and Delta Connection operate from DCA to nine airports – Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Lexington, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York John F. Kennedy, New York LaGuardia and Salt Lake City, schedules in Innovata show.