US Airways Grows LaGuardia at Delta’s Expense

A couple weeks ago, I said that Delta’s growth in Washington smelled fishy. Now, US Airways is doing the same thing in New York at LaGuardia. Now the fishy smell is going away. It’s all becoming clear now. US Airways looks to be smacking Delta back for growing in Washington. Nothing says summer fun like an airline brawl, right?

US Airways and Delta Fight in Washington, New York

There are far too many reasons for this to simply be a coincidence. For example, US Airways will increase its flying on October 31, the very same day Delta does it in Washington. The new routes are as follows:

Destination From LaGuardia Daily Frequency Change
Albany 4 -> 3x
Asheville, NC 0 -> 2x
Charleston, SC 2 -> 3x
Columbia, SC 0 -> 1x
Columbus, OH 4 -> 5x
Greenville/Spartanburg, SC 0 -> 1x
Harrisburg, PA 0 -> 3x
Hartford 0 -> 3x
Ithaca, NY 4 -> 3x
Lexington, KY 0 -> 2x
Syracuse 4 -> 5x
Washington/Dulles 0 -> 4x

US Airways will be adding a net of 17 new flights a day at LaGuardia. And where exactly are these magical slots coming from. According to US Airways, the slots were on a “short-term lease” that has now ended. Hmm, anyone want to guess to whom those were leased? If your guess isn’t Delta, hang your head in shame.

In the comments on the Delta post, reader David asked why Delta and US Airways didn’t just lease their slots to each other if they couldn’t get permission to sell them. I figured that wouldn’t be allowed at LaGuardia, but apparently that’s not true, at least in small quantity. Then again, who knows what the feds would have done had the airlines tried to go behind their backs on the entire process. You can’t hide that, and I can’t imagine it would have been looked upon favorably, to say the least.

So the story now starts to come together, at least in my mind. Delta and US Airways tried to do the slot swap and set up some slot leases as part of that to ease the transition. Then the deal got shot down. Delta, either not content to wait for the court ruling or simply not expecting to win, took its slots back from US Airways at National and decided to build them up. US Airways, obviously pissed about this, then took its slots back and decided to throw down in New York as well.

Of the 10 markets getting new or increased flying from US Airways at LaGuardia, seven of them are served by Delta. Six are actually only served by Delta right now. The Dulles move is probably an effort to get some Star Alliance connectivity via United’s hub. Then there’s Harrisburg and Hartford. I suppose it’s possible those were the next best markets out there that didn’t have service, but really? Hartford? That’s an easier drive. Maybe they think they can get some good connections via LaGuardia. Or maybe there’s just something really goofy there that I can’t figure out. (Maintenance base, aircraft routing efficiency?)

Either way, the message here is clear. If Delta wants to try and compete in Washington, then US Airways will do the same in New York. With US Airways now actually showing a profit in LaGuardia, this move could make sense . . . until the economy rolls back downhill again. But hey, let’s not let economics get in the way of a good old-fashioned round of fisticuffs. This is a lot more fun.

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