September 16, 2021
By David Shepardson and Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration will announce on Thursday it plans to award 16 slots for flights at Newark International airport in New Jersey to a low-cost carrier to spur competition at the busy northeast U.S. airport, documents seen by Reuters show.
Separately, the Federal Aviation Administration will announce it is extending temporary waivers of minimum flight requirements at some major U.S. airports through late March 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic, sources said. Airlines can lose their slots at congested airports if they do not use them at least 80% of the time.
United, which has a hub at Newark, flies about 65% of all Newark flights. Newark was the 15th-busiest U.S. airport in 2020 by total passengers.
“Opening up more slots at Newark to lower cost carriers will provide air travelers with more choices and lower prices,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
A U.S. appeals court in May vacated an FAA decision from October 2019 to retire 36 slots at Newark that had been held by Southwest Airlines.
Southwest had acquired the 36 slots at Newark in 2010 as a condition of the government’s approval of United’s merger with Continental Airlines.
Southwest subsequently said in July 2019 that it would pull out of Newark, and Spirit, a low-cost carrier, asked for 16 of the most desirable slots.
Shares of Spirit Airlines rose on Thursday, trading up 0.7%.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Dan Grebler)