Air- Southwest Airlines pushes case to expand at crowded Washington and New York airports | Dallas Morning News

Posted: November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Nov. 7, 2013

Southwest Airlines Co. will get its chance to tell a judge why it needs more takeoff and landing slots at airports in New York and Washington, D.C. — and why American Airlines Inc. and US Airways Inc. should surrender those slots.The Dallas-based carrier asked permission Thursday to submit a friend of the court brief in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in an effort to block the merger of American and US Airways. The judge in the case OK’d the request.Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the airline’s brief would cover “the enormous benefits Southwest would offer consumers if we were able to expand access” to Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.In addition, it would express “our position that the merger should not be approved without significant divestitures of slots at both airports,” Hawkins said.A US Airways spokesman declined to comment on Southwest’s filing.Calling itself “the pre-eminent low-cost carrier in the United States,” Southwest said in its request that it cannot bring the benefit of low-fare competition to markets out of Reagan National and LaGuardia unless it has enough takeoff and landing rights, or slots.“Southwest will explain how — without a significant divestiture of slots at each of these airports in conjunction with the merger — the increased concentration of slots in the hands of the merged airline would substantially lessen competition,” the airline said in its filing.Southwest and JetBlue Airways have made no secret of their desire for the Justice Department to tie approval of the merger to the divestiture of takeoff and landing slots at the Washington airport.Reagan, like LaGuardia, is one of several major airports where the federal government rations the number of takeoffs and landings. Those airports lack enough capacity to handle all the flights that airlines would like to operate.While JetBlue focuses its New York operations mostly on New York Kennedy, Southwest would like to expand its tiny LaGuardia operations.U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Monday that the department was discussing significant divestitures from the airlines if there’s to be a settlement before the case goes to trial Nov. 25. He acknowledged that Reagan National was a prime topic.While American and US Airways have not commented on settlement talks, they and the DOJ held a telephone conference with Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Monday afternoon, hours after Holder’s comments, to bring her up to date.In a related matter, the board of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport unanimously approved a resolution to throw its support behind the merger.The resolution said the board “fully supports the merger” and urges the U.S. Department of Justice “to recognize the benefits of this merger to the people of our state and nation, and cease all efforts to prevent its consummation.”

via Southwest Airlines pushes case to expand at crowded Washington and New York airports | Dallas Morning News.


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