US approves Southwest, Virgin for LaGuardia slots

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm •  Published: December 5, 2013
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DALLAS (AP) — The government will let Southwest Airlines and Virgin America buy takeoff and landing rights at New York's LaGuardia Airport that American Airlines and US Airways agreed to sell to win approval for their merger.

The airlines disclosed Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration had approved transfer of the rights, which are also called slots, earlier this week.

Slots are limited at the busy airport near Manhattan, making them a coveted item when they go on the market.

Last month, American and US Airways agreed to give up some of their slots at LaGuardia and Washington's Reagan National Airport to settle an antitrust lawsuit that the Justice Department filed to block their merger.

Southwest will get to keep the rights for five takeoffs and landings per day that it was already leasing from American and gain enough slots for six more daily flights. Virgin America will get enough slots for six flights per day. Terms were not disclosed.

In an order approving the transfers, FAA acting chief counsel Marc Warren said they were in the public interest and wouldn't reduce safety.

Dallas-based Southwest and its AirTran subsidiary already operate 27 daily round-trip flights to and from LaGuardia, and Southwest also flies to Newark, N.J., and Long Island MacArthur Airport. Executive vice president Bob Jordan said the extra slots would expand access to New York for low-fare customers.

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