The Federal Aviation Administration approved Southwest Airlines and Virgin America's request to operate take-off and landing slots at LaGuardia Airport that are currently used by American Airlines.
American is required to give up 34 slots at LaGuardia as part of the antitrust settlement it reached with the U.S. Department of Justice.
"American and the other carriers have agreed to transition the operation of the slots over time in order to minimize customer disruption," said American spokesman Mike Trevino, adding that the DOJ has approved the slot transfer.
Southwest will receive 22 slots while Virgin America will receive 12 slots at the New York Airport. Of the 22 slots given to Southwest, the Dallas-based carrier already uses 10 slots that it currently leases from American.
"We have said we are interested in airport assets that could be made available through the settlement process, and this includes the opportunity to bring our brand of low-fare, upscale competition to one of the country's busiest airports, LaGuardia," Virgin America spokesman Madhu Unnikrishnan said. "We're pleased this is moving forward with the FAA waiver news today. We will release more details on our network plans in the weeks ahead – after the process is finalized."
American also needs to divest 52 takeoff and landing slots at Washington Reagan National airport as part of the DOJ settlement.
Click this link to download U_S_DOT_FAA_-_Grant_of_Waiver.
UPDATE: Southwest said it will begin its new service at LaGuardia in May 2014 with details available later this month.
The Dallas-based carrier currently operates 27 daily roundtrip flights to and from LaGuardia to eight destinations. The new slots will allow Southwest to add six daily roundtrips.
"We are pleased the U.S. Department of Justice approved our agreement with American Airlines to acquire these slots at LaGuardia," said Southwest chief commercial officer Bob Jordan. "This is terrific news for low-fare Customers who want greater access to New York City."