JetBlue and Spirit compete for 16 available Newark locations | New
JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines have applied to the US Department of Transportation to receive more than a dozen new take-off and landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Airlines are looking for 16 daily slots that were abandoned by Southwest Airlines when the carrier stopped serving Newark in 2019.
The DOT initially had no plans to redistribute slots after Southwest’s withdrawal. But the agency has now changed course, citing a court ruling and presidential ordinance.
The slots are for take-offs and landings during the daily peak period between 2:00 p.m. and 9:59 p.m.
Recently released documents reveal that JetBlue and Spirit applied for these slots earlier this year.
New York-based JetBlue applied in June, the airline said in an Aug. 4 letter to DOT deputy administrator Bradley Mims.
JetBlue says expanding its service to Newark would bring “much needed low-cost competition to one of the world’s major fortress air hubs.”
The carrier began flying to Newark in 2011 and in recent years has significantly expanded its presence in Newark, according to data from Diio. During the busy travel spell of summer 2021, JetBlue flew from Newark to 39 cities, up from 10 destinations in the same period of 2019.
The carrier “expects to operate up to 70 daily flights to [Newark] in the future, ”says the August letter.
Florida-based Spirit also requested the slots, according to a June 2 letter from the airline to DOT.
“Spirit’s request would directly advance the public interest by creating significant long-term, very low-cost competition on United’s monopoly routes,” said Spirit’s newly-released letter.
The airline began serving Newark in 2016 and will serve 13 destinations from the airport this quarter, according to Diio.
United Airlines and its partner carriers operate about 60% of flights to Newark, where United has a hub, according to the data.
Southwest acquired 36 Newark slots in 2010 from United Airlines, which abandoned them as a condition for the US Department of Justice to approve its merger with Continental Airlines, which closed in 2010.
After Southwest left Newark in 2019, DOT retained the 16 slots reserved for peak hour operations. He cited airport congestion and flight delays as reasons for not distributing slots.
But in a September 17 advisory, the DOT said it had changed course and would now allocate all 16 slots to a single low-cost or super-low-cost airline.
The DOT notice cited a May order from a federal court. The order overturned the FAA’s decision not to allocate slots, saying the agency had ignored competitive factors.
The DOT also attributed its reversal to a July 9 order signed by President Joe Biden that outlines policy to promote competition.