US Airways looking to drop nonstop flights to LaGuardia

A deal between US Airways and Delta would result in US Airways dropping its nonstop flights from Charleston to LaGuardia Airport.

Passengers planning to fly between Charleston and New York City's LaGuardia Airport without making a stop might not be able to do it on US Airways starting early next year.

If the carrier receives the approvals, it will swap slots, or roundtrip flights, with Delta Air Lines. Delta would get 125 slots in New York in exchange for giving up 42 slots in US Airways' more profitable market in Washington, D.C., as well as access to slots in Tokyo and São Paulo, Brazil.

To close the deal, US Airways would discontinue its express service from LaGuardia to 26 airports around the country, including Charleston.

The decision would slightly lower the number of nonstop flights offered at Charleston International Airport, but Charleston County Aviation Authority Chairman David Jennings said he expects the changes to even out in the end.

'We've got plenty of nonstop service,' Jennings said. 'We're always sorry to lose a flight, but this may open up more opportunities for more Washington service.'

The airport currently offers five connection-free flights to LaGuardia through Delta and two with US Airways.

Employment in Charleston should not change as a result of the proposed changes at US Airways, according to Charlotte-based spokeswoman Michelle Mohr.

She also stressed that passengers still can arrive in New York aboard one of the carrier's flights by making a connection.

'Folks in Charleston and people coming in from LaGuardia have access through our hub in Charlotte, but just not nonstop service,' Mohr said.

Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways captures about 4 percent of revenue generated from New York airports, while Delta claims about 16 percent of that pie, according to a US Airways employee publication.

Mohr said the slot swaps are expected to improve US Airways' profitability by more than $75 million each year.

As part of its expansion in Washington, the company plans to introduce nonstop service between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Myrtle Beach and Savannah.