The joint venture planned by Delta and Canada's WestJet to operate as one on transborder routes between the U.S. and Canada has gotten a final OK from the U.S., but with one condition: the two must give up eight slots, equivalent of four daily round-trips, at New York's LaGuardia airport.
Slots at LGA are few and valuable. Between them, the two airlines account for 28% of U.S.-Canada traffic, with Air Canada having 44%. The combined service plans more routes, including some that might switch from small regional jets to WestJet's fleet of DeHaviland Dash 8 turboprops.
The slot shift was demanded by JetBlue and Southwest, both of which have long sought more slots at LaGuardia. They argue that if the eight are not divested, it would essentially undo agreements made in 2011, when Delta gave up slots in a swap with US Airways. When U.S. Air merged with American Airlines, the slots had to be divested, and ended up with WestJet.