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US Airways “cautiously optimistic” over Delta slot swap

Executives at US Airways believe the odds of getting long-awaited approval for the carrier's proposed slot swap with Delta are "greater than 50-50".

US Airways president Scott Kirby outlined the probability of concluding the deal during a presentation at the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Defense conference.

Originally proposed in 2009, US Airways aimed to transfer 125 of its Express slots at LaGuardia to Delta while Delta agreed to cede 42 slots pairs at National to US Airways.

Regulators told the carriers in order to move forward with the deal the divestiture of 14 slots at National and 20 slots at LaGuardia to incumbent or new entrant carriers was necessary. The government rejected a subsequent proposal from the carriers that entailed fewer divestitures.

But US Airways later argued that JetBlue's access to Washington National slots through a deal with American and Southwest's ability to gain slots at National and LaGuardia through its acquisition of AirTran have made each airport less concentrated.

Kirby admits getting final approval from the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the transaction "continues to be rocky road", but he's "cautiously optimistic we'll get the deal done".

However, if DOT finally grants approval for the slot transfer, Kirby explains it will not have any effect on US Ariways' profit and loss statement until next year.

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