JetBlue joins WestJet in seizing LaGuardia slots, gains more at National

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JetBlue has emerged as the largest victor in the slot auction required to allow Delta and US Airways to exchange slots at New York LaGuardia and Washington National airports.

In order for US Airways to transfer 132 slot pairs to Delta at LaGuardia and Delta to swap 42 pairs at National to US Airways, the US Department of Transportation required the divestiture of 16 slot pairs at LaGuardia and eight at National.

Delta holds all the slots divested, and will receive all the proceeds from the auction conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration of the slots.

On 28 November Canadian carrier WestJet stated it had secured eight LaGuardia slots, and now DOT confirmed JetBlue has agreed to pay $40 million for eight slot pairs at National and $32 million for the same number of pairs at LaGuardia. WestJet paid $17.6 million for its LaGuardia slots.

A slot pair consists of one takeoff and one landing right.

DOT stipulated only carriers having less than 5% of slots at each airport and not codesharing with a carrier that had over 5% of the slots at the facilities were allowed to participate in bidding.

"JetBlue submitted the highest bids for all three slot bundles, but WestJet was awarded one bundle at LaGuardia because no carrier was permitted to acquire more than one bundle at that airport," said DOT.

DOT explained to ensure the introduction of meaningful new competition at the airports. all eight slot pairs at National were sold in a single bundle, and the 16 LaGurdia pairs were sold in two bundles of eight.

Gaining the eight slot pairs at National further bolsters JetBlue's position at the airport after American transferred eight slot pairs to JetBlue to inaugurate flights from the airport in 2010.

In a statement JetBlue explained by emerging as the winning bidder in the slot auction, it would double its service from LaGuardia and National starting in 2012. JetBlue introduced flights from LaGuardia in 2004, and the carrier is based at New York JFK.

Other carriers placing bids in the slot pair auction were Allegiant, Frontier, Sun Country, Southwest and Spirit, said DOT.