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Delta nears LaGuardia deal

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley says the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an agreement to let Delta Airlines expand at LaGuardia Airport in exchange for giving up slots at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) applauded last week the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of a deal between Delta Airlines and US Airways that is set to bring a significant renovation and quieter jets to LaGuardia Airport.

“For the riding public, it’s going to mean a more efficient and more modernized airport,” Crowley said.

The congressman said the DOT recently finalized an agreement that would have Delta Airlines give up a number of its takeoff and landing slots at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport in exchange for 116 to 132 slots at LaGuardia Airport in East Elmhurst.

With the new slots, Delta would be taking over US Airways’ Terminal C and starting a $117 million renovation that will include a 600-foot connector between Terminals C and D, already operated by Delta, and a new Sky Club in Terminal C. It will give Delta a total of 29 gates at the airport, making it one of the airline’s central locations.

“LaGuardia will be like their hub in the Northeast,” Crowley said.

The new gates will also allow for larger, quieter jets at the airport instead of the older, noisier planes, meaning the airport would have fewer flights with more carrying more passengers. Crowley said this would be a boon to residents of East Elmhurst and Astoria, who live near the airport.

“LaGuardia will never be a perfect neighbor,” Crowley said. “We just try to make it a better neighbor.”

Crowley said the renovation is expected to create 6,000 jobs.

“You’ll have construction jobs, you’ll have concession jobs, you’ll have jobs around the airport that will grow out of this as well,” he said.

While the DOT has approved the plan, the plan still requires approval from the U.S. Department of Justice on merging the two operations. Crowley said he has spoken to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who grew up in East Elmhurst, and urged him to make the deal a priority.

“He’s familiar with LaGuardia,” said Crowley. “He grew up around the airport, and he knows how important this is.”

Crowley said the renovation of the airport will be appreciated by tourists who choose LaGuardia when traveling to the city.

“It puts a better face on the city of New York,” Crowley said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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