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The Associated Press December 13, 2011, 4:59PM ET

Delta, US Airways close swap of flying rights

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Tuesday that it closed a deal that will let it expand flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport and let US Airways increase its flights at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport.

In exchange for 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia, Delta gave US Airways Group Inc. 42 pairs of takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National Airport plus $66.5 million and rights to a route to Brazil in 2015.

Regulators required Delta and US Airways each to sell some slots at each airport.

JetBlue Airways Corp. and Canada's WestJet were the winning bidders. JetBlue paid $72 million for eight slot pairs at each airport, while WestJet paid $17.6 million for eight slot pairs at LaGuardia.

Delta said that with the new slots, it would expand and upgrade its LaGuardia facilities to create a hub operation.

US Airways said its new slots at Reagan National would let it add flights on current routes to and from Washington and to serve additional cities from that airport.

The airlines did not announce their expanded schedules at the two airports.

Delta shares fell 51 cents, or 6 percent, to close at $7.99, but they recovered 10 cents after hours.

US Airways dropped 44 cents, or 7.8 percent, to close at $5.19 and recovered a penny after hours.

Airlines were hammered Tuesday by the combination of an overall decline in stocks and a rise in oil prices, which could translate to higher jet fuel expenses.

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