Justice Department questions competition at National in US Airways-Delta slot deal

Washington DC
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The US Department of Justice is continuing an investigation of a slot swap agreement between Delta and US Airways at LaGuardia and Washington National airports with a focus on National to determine if the deal raises competitive disadvantages to other carriers.

Delta and US Airways secured FAA approval for the deal from the Federal Aviation Administration on 11 October. After many iterations Delta has agreed to transfer 42 slot pairs to US Airways at National while US Airways is giving Delta 132 of its slot pairs at LaGuardia. Delta has also agreed to pay US Airways $66.5 million.

Conditions of the FAA approval include the carriers divesting eight slot pairs at National and 16 at LaGuardia.

After FAA issued its approval the Justice Department followed up with its own assessment, stating its anti-trust division has been investigating the deal, and will continue its examination "with a focus on the increase in US Airways' share and use of slots at [Washington] Reagan National and the resulting decrease in Delta's share of slots at this slot-constrained airport, at which passengers pay the highest fares in the country", the department declared.

There are no plans by the Justice Department to further investigate the transfer of slots to Delta at LaGuardia, "because the division has concluded that acquisition does not raise competitive concerns".

The Justice Department furthered clarified that while its anti-trust division works closely with the Department of Transportation on airline issues, "the two agencies act under substantially different statutory and regulatory frameworks".

"Under the anti-trust laws the division can and will take appropriate action, if warranted, at the conclusion of its investigation," warned the Justice Department.