Southwest, JetBlue End Up Big Winners In US Airways/American Merger

When US Airways and American Airlines finally got the go-ahead from federal regulators to get hitched, one of the conditions was that the merged company divest itself of takeoff and landing slots at airports around the country, especially at Reagan National Airport outside of Washington, D.C., Southwest Airlines announced today it will be taking over half of the newly available slots.

According to the Dallas-based airline, it was the winning bidder on 27 of the 54 slots recently put up for auction by the combined airline. This will increase Southwest’s number of daily departures from 17 to 44.

Southwest says it will announce destinations, schedules, and fares for these additional flights later this quarter and expects to begin flying these new routes in the third quarter of 2014.

“Consumers who appreciate the value and reliability that Southwest and our People deliver are the real winners in this deal,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, & CEO. “Reagan has long been a convenient but high-fare airport. Southwest plans to change that by bringing much needed competition to the nation’s capital.”

Meanwhile, JetBlue says it won itself a dozen slots in the auction, increasing its daily departures from Reagan from 18 to 30.

Like Southwest, JetBlue has not announced the planned destinations but says it hopes to introduce nonstop service to cities it does not currently serve out of the D.C. area.

JetBlue says it has also reached an agreement with American that would permanently transfer eight additional slots to JetBlue.