US Airways has managed to potentially garner rights to serve a key Latin American destination - Sao Paulo - through a deal with Delta to exchange a limited number of international route authorities.

The international rights are part of larger slot swap agreement tabled today that entails US Airways transferring 125 pairs of its Express slots at LaGuardia to Delta while 42 pairs of Delta's slots at Washington National are being taken over by US Airways.

US Airways on 2 December plans to use rights it was awarded in March of this year to launch service from its Charlotte hub to Rio de Janeiro.

But in an interview with ATI earlier in March of this year US Airways SVP of marketing and planning Andrew Nocella said gaining access to Sao Paulo to capture business travellers was a priority for the carrier. At that time he explained: "We really want into Sao Paulo as soon as possible."

Nocella explained restrictions exist in serving Sao Paulo. Carriers that sought seven weekly flights to Brazil available from October of this year were prohibited from operating from Sao Paulo Guarulhos International airport until infrastructure constraints at the facility are removed.

With the transition of the international route authority from Delta, US Airways explains its plans to work with authorities in both countries to permit daily flights from Charlotte to both Rio and Sao Paulo. The carrier aims to start new Sao Paulo flights in the second half of 2010.

The second route authority Delta plans to transition to US Airways is Tokyo, Japan. Pending all the necessary regulatory approvals US Airways plans to launch flights from its Phoenix hub to Tokyo using Airbus A330-200s in 2012 or later.

"Sao Paulo and Tokyo will bolster our international growth plan for South America and Asia," says Nocella. "This transaction provides a unique market opportunity to expand into two prominent business markets where US Airways would otherwise not be able to operate."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news