Spirit Expanding Operations at Newark Liberty Airport with 16 New Slots
The U.S. Department of Transportation decided today to assign 16 peak-hour runway slots, previously operated by Southwest Airlines, at Newark-Liberty International Airport to Spirit Airlines. “Today’s action secures low-cost service options for Newark customers and improves competition in the Newark market, which was affected when Southwest Airlines discontinued service there” the agency said in its statement.
The Department received applications from Spirit and JetBlue Airways — which is locked in a bidding war with Frontier Airlines to buy Spirit — for the 16 available slots, and Alaska Airlines applied for four of them.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said that Spirit would be the best option to provide competition with all 16 timings and is most likely to provide the lowest fares to the most consumers
Given the Department’s concern over the recent airline cancellations, delays, challenges with customer service and other operational disruptions that have hurt travelers, the Department is requiring Spirit, as a condition of accepting the timings, to report additional data on disruptions facing their airline customers and its ability to provide them with accommodations. These reporting requirements will enable the Department to monitor Spirit’s ability to deliver on its customer commitment and permit the Department to better quantify the financial impact of operational disruptions on travelers.
As Newark is an IATA Level 2 “schedule facilitated” airport, the Department expects all operators there to continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure scheduled operations do not exceed the airport’s targeted scheduling limits.
Southwest acquired the takeoff and landing rights at the congested airport in 2010, after United Airlines to give them as a condition of buying Continental Airlines. United is still the dominant airline at Newark.