Southwest Airlines has purchased four inside-perimeter slots at Washington's Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport from Spirit Airlines, which is ending its operations at the airport on 5 September.
Southwest will use the slots to launch new service between National and Lambert-St Louis International Airport from 6 September, it says in a filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The US Federal Aviation Administration has approved the transfer of these slots to Southwest.
The slots are meant for flights to be operated in the 21:00 hour slot but Southwest has requested for the DOT to allow it to "slide" the slots, as the 21:00 hour timing will not allow it to offer "an effective pattern of service" between the two airports, it says.
"Moreover, as a limited incumbent carrier with few DCA slots, Southwest does not have sufficient flexibility to incorporate the four
21:00 hour slots into its schedule with internal trades," it adds.
The airline has requested for two of the four slots to be in the 18:00 hour slot, a third in the 11:00 hour slot and the fourth in the 12:00 hour slot.
Spirit had previously won DOT approval to slide three of the four slots to other timings and had traded the fourth. However, slot slides are not transferable between airlines, notes Southwest.
Southwest plans to operate twice daily between Washington National and St Louis using Boeing 737-700 aircraft. It will compete against American Airlines, which is the only airline that operates non-stop between the two airports.
Spirit said that it will relocate its National operations to Baltimore-Washington airport, where it will operate twice daily to Fort Lauderdale and once daily to Dallas-Fort Worth from 6 September, on 3 July.