JetBlue Airways Corp. said it will buy the rights to add 12 roundtrip flights at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport being shed by American Airlines as a condition for its merger with US Airways Group Inc.
JetBlue also will permanently acquire so-called flight slots for eight other round trips it has been leasing from American, the New York-based airline said in a statement today. The airlines have a provisional agreement that must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, JetBlue said. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.
The sale fulfills a requirement from federal antitrust regulators that buyers of the slots would be airlines that would expand competition and offer more low fares. American agreed to the sale to settle a government lawsuit against the combination on grounds that the new carrier would be too dominant at the airport closest to downtown Washington.
American was required to divest 104 slot pairs, or enough for 52 round trips. Each slot allows for one takeoff or landing.
Reagan National and LaGuardia are among only four U.S. airports with federal flight curbs to damp congestion. Airlines covet chances to fly there, because the airports’ proximity to the cities’ downtowns makes them popular with business travelers who typically buy the most-expensive tickets.
With assistance from David McLaughlin and Adam Johnson in New York. Editors: Niamh Ring, Nick Turner.