Delta Air Lines said it wants the chance to bid on slots and gates divested by American Airlines and US Airways as part of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Atlanta-based carrier said on Wednesday it is particularly interested in slots at Washington D.C.'s Reagan National Airport and gates at Dallas Love Field.
"Delta believes that DOJ should not predetermine what communities will receive service with Reagan National slots or Love Field gates, and that it shouldn't exclude any airline from the opportunity to bid for them," the airline said in a statement.
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, U.S. assistant attorney general Bill Baer suggested that low cost carriers and not legacy carriers like Delta or United Airlines will be the recipients of the slots and gates divested by American and US Airways.
"We see the legacy carriers, in our complaint issued in August makes this pretty clear, as part of the problem and we see low-cost carriers as a key part of the solution,” Baer said. The DOJ gets final approval on who is able to purchase the divested slots and gates.
At Love Field, Delta currently leases a gate from American and operates daily flights to Atlanta using small regional jets. Once the Wright Amendment restrictions are lifted next October, Delta will be able to use larger aircraft to fly to Atlanta or other destinations if it still has access to the leased gate.
"Without gate access, Delta could no longer provide Love Field service," the airline said.
Keep reading for the full press release from Delta.
Small and medium-sized communities at risk of losing service if some carriers excluded
ATLANTA, Nov. 13, 2013 – Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to consider all airlines, including those that serve small- and medium-sized communities, in the process for divesting airport slots and assets related to the proposed settlement of litigation challenging the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
Delta would like the opportunity to bid for slots and facilities at Washington-Reagan National Airport as well as Dallas Love Field, where it currently provides competition with daily nonstop flights to its international hub in Atlanta. Without gate access, Delta could no longer provide Love Field service.
Small- and medium-sized communities nationwide could experience a reduction or elimination of flights to key airports if the divestiture is limited to low-cost carriers, which typically do not provide service to small communities.
With a flexible fleet that includes smaller aircraft designed for small markets, Delta would provide service to small and medium-sized communities from impacted markets, particularly at Reagan National Airport, similar to its operation at New York-LaGuardia, where more than 50 percent of Delta’s destinations are small- and medium-sized communities. Other airlines expressing an interest in slots at Reagan National do not operate aircraft which will enable twice-daily flights to most medium-sized cities.
Delta believes that DOJ should not predetermine what communities will receive service with Reagan National slots or Love Field gates, and that it shouldn't exclude any airline from the opportunity to bid for them.
The proposed settlement, announced on Nov. 12, is awaiting approval by the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia as well as the judge overseeing American’s bankruptcy proceeding. It includes a provision to divest slots and airport assets held by American or US Airways at several airports.
The settlement agreement authorized the DOJ, in consultation with six states and the District of Columbia, to decide which airlines can bid for the divested slots and facilities, but it does not restrict the bidding to any class or category of airline.