Southwest eyes regional expansion with 54 new slots at Reagan airport

Southwest Airlines won 54 slots recently vacated amid federal litigation at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, expanding its already-large presence in the region.

The airline said its pending growth at Reagan, where its number of daily departures is expected to balloon from 17 to 44, will not impact existing schedules or routes out of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.


"We have about 240 flights a day from BWI, and we're not expecting that to change," said Dan Landson, a Southwest spokesman.

Southwest is BWI's largest carrier, and together with AirTran, which it acquired in May 2011, serves 70 percent of the airport's passengers.


If anything, Landson said, Southwest is "focused on growth" at BWI. Earlier this week, the airline announced that it will make its first international flights out of BWI on July 1 as it takes over AirTran flights between Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

"Even though we are extending our service to D.C., we're also extending our services at BWI as well," Landson said.

The slots at Reagan became available as a result of last fall's settlement of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust suit against the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

Southwest won the slots in bidding against other airlines, but said details of its bid "remain confidential under terms of the deal."

Final terms of the slot sale still must be worked out and approved by the Justice Department, the carrier said.

Southwest said it will announce "destinations, schedules and fares" for the new slots later this quarter, and begin flying out of them in the third quarter of this year.

"We are looking at all options at the moment, looking at where the demand is and looking to provide the best service on those routes," Landson said.