* Carriers say Justice Dept must give final approval
* Southwest gains 54 slots, good for 27 departures
* JetBlue adds 12 new slot pairs, full control of 8 more
* Shares of both carriers rise
Jan 30 Southwest Airlines and JetBlue
Airways won takeoff and landing rights at Reagan
National Airport near Washington that American Airlines Group
must sell under an agreement with the U.S. government,
the carriers said on Thursday.
Dallas-based Southwest said it successfully bid for 54
slots, which will allow it to operate 27 additional daily
flights at Reagan National. New York-based JetBlue said it won
12 slot pairs, or 24 slots, and will also gain control of eight
other slot pairs from American that it had been operating
temporarily since 2010, for a total of 20 slot pairs at Reagan.
A slot is the right to operate one takeoff or landing. Of
the 52 Reagan National slot pairs American agreed to give up,
there are five left to be sold.
JetBlue shares were up 6.4 percent to $9.05 in afternoon
trading, while Southwest gained 3.2 percent to $21.27. American
Airlines shares rose 2.7 percent to $33.86.
The slot purchases are subject to final approval of the U.S.
Justice Department, Southwest and JetBlue said.
The slots will likely be a worthwhile investment for the
receiving carriers, said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant in
Port Washington, New York. Reagan National is a popular,
gate-restricted airport that serves the political and business
"For JetBlue, it gives them a meaningful position at
National," Mann said. He said the new slots could give
Southwest, which already has a sizable presence at
Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport
(BWI), a means to connect people to its major hubs in Chicago,
Houston and Atlanta from Reagan National.
American's former parent, AMR Corp, and US Airways agreed to
give up 52 pairs of takeoff and landing rights, or 104 slots, at
Reagan National as well as gates at other airports under a
settlement of an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Justice
Department seeking to block their combination. The merger,
completed in December, formed the world's largest airline.
Late last year, Southwest and Virgin America, a carrier in
which Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share
investor, won slots at New York's LaGuardia Airport that
Southwest and JetBlue said they intend to bring lower fares
and more competition to Reagan National, a key goal of the
Justice Department in requiring American to make the
"Reagan has long been a convenient but high-fare airport,"
Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said in a statement.
JetBlue added that once its agreement for the slots is
approved, it expects to add 12 new roundtrip flights at Reagan
National and provide non-stop flights to cities it does not yet
serve from that location, with Jacksonville, Florida, and
Charleston, South Carolina, as possibilities. With the new
slots, JetBlue plans to operate up to 30 roundtrips per day at
Reagan National, compared with 18 currently.
Southwest said it would use the new slots to increase its
service at Reagan National to 44 daily departures from 17. It
plans to announce destinations, schedules, and fares for the
newest flights later this quarter and to start service in the
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a
request for comment. American said it was working on agreements
with a number of carriers on the airport slots and gates it must
Virgin America had also said it was interested in the
airport assets available as a result of the American merger