Bids submitted for American Airlines Reagan National slots: sources

Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:17pm EST

A line of passengers wait to enter the security checkpoint before boarding their aircraft at Reagan National Airport in Washington, April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

A line of passengers wait to enter the security checkpoint before boarding their aircraft at Reagan National Airport in Washington, April 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - Airlines have submitted bids seeking to purchase takeoff and landing rights at Reagan National Airport that American Airlines Group (AAL.O) is required to sell under an agreement with the U.S. government, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the record.

An announcement about the sales of slots at Reagan National could be made this week, the sources said, but they did not know how many airlines had submitted bids.

American Airlines Group, formed when US Airways Group and AMR Corp merged in December, declined to comment on Sunday.

The merging carriers agreed to give up 52 pairs of takeoff and landing rights, or 104 slots, at Reagan National Airport located just outside Washington, as well as certain other assets under a settlement of an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department seeking to block their combination. The merger formed the world's largest airline.

Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) and Virgin America prevailed in bidding late last year to purchase slots at New York's LaGuardia Airport that American agreed to shed under the merger settlement . The new American also agreed to give up gates at five other major airports: Boston Logan, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles International and Miami International.

The Justice Department said the slot and gate sales would give low-cost competitors better access to some of the nation's busiest airports.

JetBlue Airways (JBLU.O), Southwest and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) have publicly expressed interest in acquiring assets at Reagan National. Sixteen of the 104 Reagan National slots are currently leased to JetBlue and would be offered to JetBlue permanently, according to the November settlement agreement.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta, additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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