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Alaska to lease Southwest 20 slots at National and LaGuardia

Alaska Air Group has leased to Southwest Airlines takeoff and landing rights at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport and New York LaGuardia airport.

The deal will see Southwest acquire rights to 12 slots at LaGuardia and eight at National for ten years, with the deal running through 2028, says Alaska chief executive Brad Tilden during Alaska's first quarter earnings call on 23 April.

Southwest confirms the leases, saying it will "provide additional flights beginning later in 2018" at both LaGuardia and National.

Dallas-based Southwest declines to disclose specific routes, but says it expects to release more details in the coming weeks.

As a result of the leases, Seattle-based Alaska in October will end routes from National and LaGuardia and Dallas Love Field, transferring those aircraft to routes that will help bolster Alaska's presence in the western USA, Tilden says.

"Flying from Dallas Love Field to both LaGuardia and Washington Reagan, at this point in the company's history, was not strategic," he says.

The moves reflect Alaska's efforts at ensuring the combined Alaska-Virgin network is "configured the way we want it", he adds.

Alaska acquired the LaGuardia-Dallas and National-Dallas routes with its December 2016 purchase of Virgin America.

The company operates from LaGuardia to Dallas up to four times daily, and flies the National-Dallas route three times daily, according to FlightGlobal schedules data. The company deploys Embraer 175s on both routes.

Tilden says regulators already approved the lease deal. The agreement gives Alaska the right to take back "a couple pairs" of slots from Southwest should regulators ease route distance caps – so-called "perimeter" rules – at LaGuardia or National, Tilden adds.

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