February 28, 2013 Washington National Slot Bidding Rolls On.
In 2008 the DOT awarded two slots to Spirit Airlines for daily non-stop service between Washington National Airport and Fort Lauderdale Airport. In July 2012 Spirit served notice to the DOT that they were abandoning their slots when the moved from DCA to BWI. The DOT made an announcement in the Regulations.gov docket DOT-OST-2000-7182 that the two “inside perimeter” slots are again up for bid. The DCA perimeter is a 1,250 miles. So an inside perimeter flight must be within 1,250 miles of DCA. Three airlines filed bids
US Airways filed a bid to start Oklahoma City – Washington DC
Southwest filed a bid to start Houston Hobby – Washington DC
and JetBlue filed a bid to Start Washington DC – Jacksonville FL continuing on to San Juan PR.
Previously several years ago US Airways and Delta did a slot swap between New York LA Guardia Airport and Washington National. This allowed Delta to develop a large operation at LGA and allow US Airways to increase the size of their DCA operation. Now I haven’t been in DCA since 2007 so I am not too familiar with the airport. So I wasn’t too sure of the size of US Airways operation there. However, because your truly is nerd I was reading Regulations.gov and I came across this:
That is a letter from JetBlue’s general counsel urging the DOT to reject US Airways’ bid for the slots. The reasoning behind the rejection is that with the AA-US merger US Airways will control 67% off all slots at DCA airport. That’s a large number as no airline has a hub at DCA and that DCA is the main airport for domestic flights in to the Washington DC. Well there is Dulles Airport, but you don’t really want to use that airport unless you are on an international flight or connecting. But if you are going to Washington DC, DCA will be your first choice of airports.
US Airways and Delta Air Lines competed vigorously on the North East shuttle market (Boston-New York-DC) until the slot and a measure of detente broke out between the two companies. Now with the AA/US merger it looks like one of the areas where the new American will have to shed slots is DCA. Judging from the applications it looks like JetBlue and Southwest are going to go after any slots American is forced to return to the DOT as part of the merger.
Finally, I don’t know if any of you have spent time on Regulations.gov. As hard to use as that website is, it is the people’s voice in U.S. Government rule-making You are more than welcome to comment on the situation to me here on the blog, but why not tell the government. Register and tell Uncle Sam who you think should have the slots, US, WN, or B6. For those who revel in the anonymity of the internet, they even take anonymous comments.