Travelers can expect to see more Southwest Airlines flight options from the East Coast opening up over the next few years. The DOT has granted approval for Alaska Airlines to lease 20 of its slots to Southwest for the next ten years, in a deal running through 2028.
Southwest To Lease 20 Slots at DC National and LaGuardia Airports
The slots will be allocated at New York LaGuardia (LGA) in which Southwest will lease 12 of the slots and at Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) where they will have eight. Acquired during the 2016 purchase of Virgin America, Alaska Airlines wants to offload these slots in order to focus on its presence on the West Coast.
This move will allow Alaska to re-purpose many of the aircraft serving these routes to more profitable ones out of its hub Seattle (SEA), and focus airports like Portland (PDX) and Anchorage (ANC). All while still monetizing these highly valuable slots through the new lease.
During the company's first-quarter earnings conference call Alaska Airlines chief executive Brad Tilden said: "Flying from Dallas Love Field to both LaGuardia and Washington Reagan, at this point in the company's history, was not strategic."
The lease will begin in October 2018 and Southwest Airlines has already confirmed it plans on providing additional flights but has yet to disclose any potential routes or service increases. Stay tuned here on the Airfarewatchblog as we'll make sure to post all the information on newly announced routes when it becomes available.