Friday, August 27, 2010
The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division has cleared Continental and United's plans to form the world's largest airline after the carriers agreed to relinquish takeoff and landing slots and other assets at Newark Liberty Airport to Southwest Airlines. See Press Release, DOJ, United Airlines and Continental Airlines Transfer Assets to Southwest Airlines in Response to Department of Justice's Antitrust Concerns (Aug. 27, 2010) (available here). From the press release:
The department conducted a thorough investigation. The proposed merger would combine the airlines’ largely complementary networks, which would result in overlap on a limited number of routes where United and Continental offer competing nonstop service. The largest such routes are between United’s hub airports and Continental’s hub at Newark airport, where Continental has a high share of service and where there is limited availability of slots, making entry by other airlines particularly difficult. The transfer of slots and other assets at Newark to Southwest, a low cost carrier that currently has only limited service in the New York metropolitan area and no Newark service, resolves the department’s principal competition concerns and will likely significantly benefit consumers on overlap routes as well as on many other routes. The slot transfer is through a lease that permanently conveys to Southwest all of Continental’s rights in the assets, in compliance with FAA rules.