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Delta, US Airways can trade slots, but...

Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. can trade takeoff and landing slots at LaGuardia and Washington's Reagan National airports if they divest two dozen slot pairs to rivals, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday.

The carriers would have to give up eight pairs of slots at Reagan National and 16 pairs at LaGuardia to smaller competitors with little or no presence and complete their transaction in phases, the DOT said.

If approved, Delta would gain 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia and control about half the flights there for trading 42 of its pairs at Reagan National so that US Airways can boost its presence in the nation's capital. US Airways would also get to increase daily service to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015, and Delta would pay US Airways $66.5 million in cash.

The number of divestitures regulators called for matches the number Delta and US Airways proposed giving up in their May application.

US Airways expects the slot exchange will be finalized by the end of this year once the DOT grants final approval, Steve Johnson, executive vice president, said. The deal will be implemented in two phases starting in the first half of 2012 and will be completed in the second half, Johnson said.

Delta didn't immediately have a comment.

-- Staff and wire reports

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