Feb 19 Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines
said it lost a bid for slots at Reagan National Airport in
Washington that are being given up by American Airlines Group
American Airlines, formed when US Airways merged with AMR
Corp in December, had agreed to divest takeoff and landing
rights at key U.S. airports under a settlement with the U.S.
Justice Department, which had challenged the combination.
"We put in a bid at a price that we thought we could keep
our target margin returns in place and we did not win," Spirit
Chief Executive Ben Baldanza said on a conference call to
discuss the company's fourth-quarter results.
Baldanza did not say who had won the slots, but said there
were no more slots available at the airport.
Miramar, Florida-based Spirit is also interested in
acquiring gates in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston that are also
being divested by American Airlines, Baldanza said.
American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, agreed to
divest 52 pairs of takeoff and landing rights, or 104 slots, at
Reagan National Airport.
The carrier also agreed to give up gates at airports in
Boston, Chicago, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles and Miami.
Southwest Airlines Co has got 54 slots from American
Airlines, while JetBlue Airways Corp has got 24.
JetBlue also now owns 16 other slots that were previously under
lease from American Airlines.
Spirit Airlines' shares were up 5.4 percent at $50.23 in
late morning trading on Wednesday after the company reported a
fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts' average estimate as it
flew fuller planes.
The company earned 56 cents per share, excluding items, in
the quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts on average expected earnings
of 50 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The carrier's load factor, which measures an airline's
success in filling its seats, rose to 86.2 percent in the
quarter from 85.2 percent a year earlier.