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U.S. Airways to expand service at Reagan National Airport

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U.S. Airways on Tuesday unveiled plans to expand its presence at Reagan National Airport, adding new daily non-stop flights from Washington to 14 cities.

The new service--which begins March 25--adds 24 daily departures from the airport. Currently, eight of the new destinations have no direct flights to Washington from any carrier.

Instead of hitting big cities, the airline is going to smaller towns.

"Having more options is good, especially if you have one less leg to do," said U.S. Airways passenger Amy Yaroch. "Typically I'm flying multiple legs."

The expansion is the result of U.S. Airways' swap of take-off and landing slots with Delta Air Lines at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Last month, Delta announced 100 new flights to 29 new destinations from LaGuardia, now a domestic hub.

The swap of slots, which was two years in the making and required federal regulators' approval, comes as U.S. Airways merge and consolidate their operations in a bid to be more profitable.

With the move, U.S. Airways will concentrate on its core service areas of Washington, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte. Many of the new flights are to cities with military bases.

The expansion is also slated to add 125 jobs at Reagan.

Delta, meanwhile, will try to dominate the New York marketplace.

"For Delta, it really cements their position on the east side of the Hudson River," says Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst and president of R.W. Mann & Co. "In the case of dominance in the Washington market, U.S. Airways, which is already strong, is now just stronger."

By summer, Delta expects to operate 264 daily flights between LaGuardia and more than 60 cities.

Travel experts say it could result in an airfare war among the Star Alliance carriers.

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