Never mind that it already has a hub at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Next year, Delta Air Lines plans to open a second domestic hub a mere 12 miles away at New York's LaGuardia airport, it announced last week.
An unprecedented move to dominate the New York market, the hub will include more than 100 new flights with service to 29 new destinations — an increase of 60 and 75 percent, respectively — making it the largest expansion by any single carrier at LaGuardia in "decades," according to the airline. New destinations include Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Cleveland, with increased frequency to business markets it currently serves, including Chicago, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham and Portland, Maine.
"Delta's new service will offer customers more flights, seats and travel choices than any other carrier in New York, one of the largest and most competitive aviation markets in the world," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. "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."
By summer 2012, Delta will offer a total of 264 flights to more than 60 cities from LaGuardia. What's more, it will offer more domestic flights and seats from New York's three major airports — more than 400 daily domestic departures combined from LaGuardia, JFK and Newark — than any other carrier.
"This is another example of a global business investing more in New York, benefiting our economy and consumers," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. "Delta's expansion will create hundreds of jobs, improve New York's airport infrastructure and give New Yorkers greater travel opportunities. Delta continues the pattern of businesses partnering with us to make our state a better place."
Delta's expansion at LaGuardia is made possible by its acquisition of 132 new slot pairs, acquired this month in a trade with US Airways, which in return received 42 slot pairs at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. To accommodate the extra volume, the airline will spend $100 million to create an expanded main terminal at LaGuardia in Terminals C and D, where it will operate a total of 26 gates. A 600-foot connector bridge will be built to link the two terminals.
"Today's announcement is great news for New York City and for the millions who fly here every year," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "In addition to the traveling public, this expansion will benefit the city's economy by creating both construction and permanent jobs."