Delta eyes Reagan slots

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is eyeing some of the spoils of the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

As part of a settlement announced Tuesday by the U.S. Justice Department, American and US Airways agreed to divest flying rights and gates at several key airports around the country to low-cost carriers. The settlement resolves the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit challenging the American-US Airways merger. The divestitures will be primarily at New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan National, with smaller divestitures of gates at five other airports.

Delta said it is most interested in slots, or flying rights, at Washington Reagan. Coincidentally, that’s where Delta shrunk its presence a couple of years ago as the result of a “slot swap” with US Airways. Delta turned over Reagan slots to US Airways in exchange for slots at LaGuardia.

The settlement this week requires US Airways and American to divest 88 slots at Reagan, with several airlines likely to be interested.

Although Delta is not a low-cost carrier, the airline said it is “best positioned to continue competitive nonstop flights from Reagan National to small and mid-sized cities that could otherwise see service reduced or eliminated, which should be a strong consideration in the divestiture.”