Continental Airlines has agreed to lease Southwest Airlines 36 take-off and landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport which are currently held by Continental,...

Continental Airlines has agreed to lease Southwest Airlines 36 take-off and landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport which are currently held by Continental, in a deal that is contingent upon the merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines being completed by November 30.

The lease deal, which is also contingent on governmental approvals, would give Southwest Airlines the right to operate up to 18 daily round-trip flights at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The carrier says it would offer some flights from Newark beginning in March 2011 and would have a full schedule in place by June 2011.


The slots are spread throughout the day and would allow Southwest the ability to integrate Newark service conveniently into its extensive national route network, according to Dallas-based Southwest.

Continental has made the slots available as a condition of the U.S. Department of Justice giving anti-trust approval for the Continental-United merger.

“We are excited by the opportunity to initiate service from Newark, New Jersey, and we plan to enable that service starting next March through continued flight schedule optimization using our existing fleet,” says Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president of strategy and planning.

Southwest Airlines has painted quite a few aircraft in its all-Boeing 737 fleet in special themed liveries. This 737-700 is painted in the state colors of Maryland and Southwest calls it 'Maryland One' to commemorate its strong presence at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the busiest commercial airport in the state

“We’ve seen tremendous demand for Southwest Airlines in the New York City/Newark area in the past year. Customers are clamoring for our unique brand of hospitality, great value, low fares, extensive flight network, and our terrific employees who deliver outstanding customer service,” says Jordan. “Adding Newark provides an excellent complement to our LaGuardia and Long Island service, giving customers one more option for travel to and from the greater New York City/New Jersey area. This service also will provide a needed injection of low fares and competition into the New York/Newark market.”

Southwest says it is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Continental and United Airlines to finalize arrangements for commencing its Newark service in March 2011, including the approval of the acquisition of the necessary airport gates and facilities. Details on what cities Southwest will serve from Newark and on what dates that service will begin have not yet been determined.

“The divestiture of slots at Newark by the combined Continental/United will ensure competition is enhanced, and we appreciate the Department of Justice’s role in finding a fair solution,” says Jordan.