Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways said on Thursday that they had bought the takeoff and landing rights at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington that the Justice Department required American Airlines and US Airways to sell as a condition of their merger.
Southwest said it had secured 54 takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National. These will increase Southwest’s service there to 44 daily departures, from 17. The airline said it would announce destinations and schedules for these new flights later this quarter; it expects to begin flying in the third quarter of 2014.
Separately, JetBlue said it had acquired an extra 12 round-trip flights from Reagan National. In addition to its winning bid, JetBlue said that American had agreed to the permanent transfer of eight slot pairs that it had been renting since 2010. Each slot pair provides rights for a departure and an arrival.
Financial details for the transactions were not disclosed.
The sales were required by a deal reached in November with the Justice Department. American and US Airways agreed to sell a total of 104 takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National and 34 slots at La Guardia Airport to low-cost carriers.
Because of congestion problems, some airports can handle only so many takeoffs and landings every day. Those are known as slots, and their relative scarcity makes them valuable to airlines. Both Reagan National and La Guardia are subject to these controls on their capacity.
As part of the deal, American still has a handful of slots to sell at Reagan National. It sold the required slots at La Guardia to Southwest and Virgin America in December.
It also has to divest a pair of gates and ground assets at each of the following airports: Chicago O’Hare International, Los Angeles International, Boston Logan International, Dallas Love Field and Miami International.