Southwest interested in slots at LaGuardia and National

Washington DC
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Southwest Airlines has expressed interest in participating in a potential sale of slots slated to be divested in the slot swap deal between Delta Air Lines and US Airways at New York LaGuardia and Washington National.

"We're very interested to increase our presence in the slot controlled markets", said Southwest chief executive officer Gary Kelly, adding that "it's impossible otherwise to get any additional capacity".

Kelly said that "the odds are more likely than not that we'll make a bid" but also warned, however, that the swap is "not a done deal".

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved the deal last month, in which Delta would transfer 42 slot pairs at National to US Airways, which would transfer 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia to Delta.

When announcing its tentative approval of the swap, the DOT said that it would require the divestiture of eight slot pairs at National and 16 at LaGuardia to "to reduce the prospects for competitive harm".

The DOT proposed in its tentative approval one bundle of eight slot pairs would be sold at National, along with two bundles of eight slots pairs at LaGuaridia. Only new carriers or airlines with a limited presence at either airport would be eligible to bid for the slots.

Southwest currently serves LaGuardia from Chicago Midway and Baltimore. The carrier launched service there in 2009 after acquiring slots from bankrupt carrier ATA Airlines.

AirTran Airways, recently acquired by Southwest, flies from both LaGuardia and National.