Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways are both big winners in the auctioning of American Airlines and US Airways slots at Washington Reagan National Airport that the U.S. government required in order for American and US Airways to complete their merger in December.
Although bid details remain confidential and are subject to final approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Southwest Airlines has been informed its bid for 54 slots was provisionally successful.
Assuming final approval is granted, the extra slots will enable Southwest to operate 27 more round-trips from Washington Reagan National Airport (IATA code DCA). One slot covers runway usage for one landing or one take-off, so an airline needs two slots in order to be able to operate one round-trip service.
According to Southwest, its 54 additional slots will translate to an increase in Southwest’s service at Washington Reagan from 17 daily departures to 44 daily departures. The carrier plans to announce destinations, schedules, and fares for the additional flights later this quarter and expects to begin flying the new services in the third quarter of 2014.
Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways has been informed that its bid for 12 American-US Airways slot pairs (that is, 24 slots) at Washington Reagan has been provisionally accepted.
Assuming final approval is forthcoming from the DOJ, JetBlue plans to use the 12 slot pairs both to introduce non-stop service to cities it does not currently serve from DCA and to add more flights on some existing routes from the near-downtown Washington-area airport (which is actually located in Arlington, Virginia).
JetBlue first entered the Washington Reagan National market in 2010 and today offers 18 daily round-trip flights to Boston , Fort Lauderdale Hollywood, Orlando and Tampa. It also operates DCA’s only non-stop service to San Juan in Puerto Rico. With its new slots, JetBlue will operate up to 30 round-trips per day at DCA.
In addition to Southwest’s presence at DCA and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Southwest operates more than 200 daily departures from Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) to nearly 60 cities.
Beginning on July 1, Southwest will also offer new daily service from BWI to Aruba, The Bahamas, and Jamaica, launching a new international chapter for both the carrier and Maryland’s largest airport.