Airlines swapping slots and gates

Posted on 17. Aug, 2009 by in Featured

US airlines are swapping some of the most coveted slots and gates in the system. Pre-merger moves or entrenchment? Looking at the players and the moves, I’d have to say entrenchment. One swap is between Delta and USAir the other is Continental and Air Tran. All the moves seem to be an effort to realign, entrench and strengthen the position of the players; not to enhance a merger.

USAir and Delta: USAir swapped LaGuardia (LGA) gates and 125 slots for 42 of Delta’s Washington DC (DCA) slots and two International city pair slots (Narita Japan and Sao Paulo Brazil). Delta has just merged with Northwest and is obviously making a big move to put a hub in LGA to compliment it’s Shuttle operation and recent growth in JFK. USAir has made past attempts at other mergers, their Executive team knows they need a more expansive network, especially Internationally. Spurned by their aggressive attempts, it appears they are making moves to enhance their network at both ends. The Narita route is a good get for USAir (they currently have no far east), especially in light of Japans economy turning around. At the other end, USAir traded the valuable LGA slots, utilized by Piedmont for low revenuefeeder routes, for equally as valuable DCA slots. USAir will operate higher revenue mainlin (dual class) service on the DCA routes enhancing their presence.
IMO; win/win.

Continental and Air Tran: Continental is trading 4 LGA and 6 DCA slots for all 10 of Air Tran’s Newark (EWR) slots. Continental gains 10 more slots at the congested airport to fortify it’s hub. More importantly; Continental gets rid of the pressure of a Low Cost Carrier operating at its hub. Air Tran gains very hard to get slots and consolidates it’s New York operation at LGA. Operationally, costs will go down. The gains at DCA are hard to get and will plus up their presence in the capitol.
IMO; win/win.

Both swaps are good for all of the players individual systems and will help all fours bottom line. It also shows the industry is moving away from the, higher frequency with smaller aircraft strategy. As fuel prices creep up along with the mandated increases in crew costs, expect the move away from smaller aircraft to gain momentum. Piedmont will be the only looser in the swap closing the maintenance, Flight Attendant and Pilot base. I suspect they will not be the last, as the industry growth trend of the past 10 years (regionals flying RJs) reverses.

No Responses to “Airlines swapping slots and gates”

  1. Lewis Barrera 17 August 2009 at 18:08 #

    it made me think of the smart Unknown saying – “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”

  2. Chip 18 August 2009 at 10:26 #

    The more they change the more they stay the same. I think the airlines are positioning themselves for the economic turn around. They are with drawing to and shoring up their market share. Perhaps they will put away the knives. this could shape up like the late 90’s (profitable)before the RJ invasion destroyed the network airline model.

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