Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airlines will soon increase service to and from Washington's Reagan National Airport, thanks to the results of an antitrust lawsuit.
To settle an antitrust suit and allow the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, the U.S. Justice Department required the two merging airlines to give up a combined 104 landing slots at the airport, plus several at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
The Justice Department made it clear that the airlines must sell the slots to low-cost carriers to ensure strong competition and low prices.
On Thursday, Southwest announced that it had won bids to buy 54 of the Reagan slots, and JetBlue said it would take over 24 slots.
With the additional slots, Southwest will increase its service at Reagan National to 44 daily departures from 17. The airline said it will announce the destinations and schedules in the next few weeks.
"Reagan has long been a convenient but high-fare airport," said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines' chairman and chief executive. "Southwest plans to change that by bringing much needed competition to the nation's capital."
JetBlue already flies eight daily round-trip flights from Reagan to Boston; Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; and Tampa, Fla., as well as the airport's only nonstop service to San Juan, Puerto Rico. With its new slots, JetBlue said it will add up to 30 round trips a day from Reagan.
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