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VivaAerobus fails to win Mexico City-Los Angeles slot rights

US transport regulators have turned down Mexican carrier VivaAerobus' last-ditch attempt to begin Mexico City-Los Angeles service, as they finalise the assignment of slots being divested by Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) largely kept to its tentative slot decisions announced in early March, with a couple of slight deviations for the award of slots at New York John F Kennedy.

It rejected a request by low-cost carrier VivaAerobus to switch a slot pair it was awarded for Mexico City-New York JFK service to Mexico City-Los Angeles. Instead the DOT finalised the award of three slots at JFK to the airline for service from Mexico City.

A fourth slot that was freed up will now go to Volaris for service between New York JFK and Cancun, which it had originally applied for.

In March, the agency had requested VivaAerobus to submit a revised proposal for its JFK slot timings, as the low-cost carrier's requested timings fell within protected hours stipulated by the DOT slot proceeding.

In VivaAerobus' follow-up proposal, one of the four slot timings falls outside New York JFK's slot-controlled hours, so the agency only considered the assignment of three slots, explains the DOT.

The DOT says it turned down VivaAerobus' request to switch one New York JFK slot pair to Los Angeles, because it had already raised competitive concerns over the Mexico City-New York JFK route.

Delta and Aeromexico operate nonstop between Mexico City and New York JFK, alongside Interjet and Volaris. In comparison, eight airlines will eventually offer nonstop service between Mexico City and Los Angeles.

"VivaAerobus may transfer its JFK slots to another eligible carrier if it no longer wishes to utilise them," says the DOT.

The agency had assigned a total of 24 slot pairs at Mexico City and another four at New York JFK. The slots are being divested by Delta and Aeromexico, in exchange for US regulatory approval of anti-trust immunity for their joint venture which is expected to come into force in the coming months.

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