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Delta announces major LaGuardia expansion

Updated 2:23 p.m. ET

Delta this morning announced plans to add more than 100 flights and 29 destinations by early July at New York LaGuardia. Delta also will make more than $100 million worth of upgrades to its LaGuardia passenger facilities.

The expansion is part Delta’s stated goal of transforming LaGuardia into a domestic hub, a move the airline says will complement its international hub across town at New York JFK and give it a dominant position in the New York marketplace.

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“Our expanded New York schedule is a clear indication that we’re making good headway with creative thinking and strategic moves to become the preferred airline for travelers flying to and from New York City,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson says in a press release.

Many of the new and expanded routes will put Delta into direct competition with its biggest rivals on some of their most important routes.

The Associated Press writes “the list of added cities reads like a map of the hubs of competing airlines. Delta is adding Miami and Dallas, which are both American Airlines hubs. It will also fly to Houston, Cleveland and Denver, all of which are United hubs, and Charlotte, which is a hub for US Airways.”

Also in Delta’s expanded LaGuardia flight plan are new nonstop routes to other “top U.S. business markets” – including Pittsburgh and Milwaukee – as well as increased frequencies on existing routes to Chicago, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham and Portland (Maine).

In its press release on the subject, Delta says:

In addition to key business markets, Delta will be adding new all-jet service from LaGuardia to key upstate New York markets, including Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, replacing turboprop aircraft operated by US Airways. Delta also will be adding service to smaller communities including Wilmington, N.C.; Roanoke Va.; and Burlington, Vt.

The larger jet aircraft utilized by Delta means up to 4 million additional seats will be available at LaGuardia without increasing congestion.

Delta says its flight expansion and terminal upgrade will be “the largest single expansion by any carrier at LaGuardia in decades, with total flights increasing by more than 60%, and total destinations by more than 75%. By summer 2012, Delta will operate 264 daily flights between LaGuardia and more than 60 cities, more than any other airline.”

The Dallas Morning News writes (Gail Grimmett, Delta’s senior vice president for New York), “said Delta is investing $140 million at LaGuardia, including a connector from its current Terminal D to new space at Terminal C that it will occupy and a new airport club in Terminal C.”

Delta acquired the landing rights at LaGuardia via a “slot swap” deal with US Airways.

Under that deal, Delta acquired 132 “slot pairs” from US Airways at LaGuardia while US Airways acquired from 42 slot pairs from Delta at Washington National. US Airways also obtained from Delta the flight rights to operate additional daily service to Sao Paulo, Brazil, beginning in 2015. A “slot pair” essentially gives the airline flight rights for one round-trip flight at the airport.

AP writes “US Airways said it will announce its plans for expanded Washington flying in January.”

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