Southwest Airlines will take 14 slots at LaGuardia airport held by defunct ATA Airlines, paving the way for the Dallas carrier to enter the competitive New York City market.
The judge overseeing ATA's bankruptcy approved the $7.5 million proposal, which garnered no objections and no alternative bids, a Southwest spokeswoman says. Southwest's former codeshare partner filed for Chapter 11 and ceased operations in April.
A launch date has not been determined as the transaction will not be finalized until March, she adds, noting this will the low-cost carrier's first time in New York City.
Southwest serves the metro area from Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York, roughly 50 miles (80.5km) east of the city.
Gate access for Southwest at LaGuardia still needs to be resolved. Today during a presentation at the Credit Suisse Global Airlines Conference Southwest CEO Gary Kelly explained the carrier is holding discussions with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) regarding gate space, noting the airport operator had given the carrier assurances it could secure one gate.
The 14 slots Southwest is attempting to secure translate into seven roundtrips, with Kelly noting the airline believes "it can do a lot with one gate". Southwest's chief executive also feels comfortable it can gain additional gates at LaGuardia in the future.
Bankruptcy court approval of Southwest's purchase of the slots comes as US regulators prepare to auction a portion of slots at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports on 12 January to ease congestion at the facilities.
The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) and the PANYNJ have filed lawsuits to block those auctions.