How an airline swap could affect your travel plans

May 26, 2011

Earlier this week Delta and U.S. Airways announced a trade: Delta would get more slots for flights in and out of New York's LaGuardia Airport, while U.S. Airways would get the same at D.C.'s Reagan National.

Spokesmen from Delta and U.S. Airways both say it's too early to tell what the specifics will be. But it's likely the deal will affect upstate air travelers.

For Greater Rochester International, Delta says it might ultimately mean fewer flights on clunky turboprops and more on roomier jets.

The deal still needs regulatory approval and would take about 18 months to implement, the airlines say.

But at first glance, the consensus among company spokesmen and at least one local official is that the deal is good news for upstate air travelers.

"The airlines apparently believe it's going to be a good deal for them," says Greater Rochester International Director of Aviation Susan Walsh. "It can only be [a good deal] if it enhances their customer base. So let's hope it does that and we get more people flying out of Rochester."

A similar agreement was floated in 2009, but was blocked by regulators. After two years of major airline consolidations, however, Delta and U.S. Airways say they're optimistic the trade will be approved this time around.

Delta spokesman Joseph Perone says the deal could mean that Delta would take over some of the daily flights that U.S. Airways currently offers to LaGuardia.

If that were the case, U.S. Airways turboprop planes would be replaced with Delta jets.

Airport director Walsh says that would be great news for frequent travelers to the Big Apple.

Delta spokesman Perone says the two airlines will announce which upstate routes and airports will be affected by the deal after it gets approval. He said the airline will continue to serve upstate.

Delta is already the largest carrier at Greater Rochester International. The Atlanta-based airline carries about a quarter of all traffic, according to Walsh.

Walsh says Delta has four daily flights from Rochester to New York's JFK, but none to LaGuardia or Reagan. Delta's Perone said it's too early to say how Delta's flights to JFK would be affected. Same goes for how prices might be affected - it's too soon to know.

U.S. Airways currently has three daily flights to Reagan and six flights daily to LaGuardia.

Walsh says those six daily flights to LaGuardia carry about 235 passengers, roughly 40 per flight.