Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The breaking news this morning is that the U.S. Department of Justice has reached an agreement with American Airlines and US Airways to allow the two carriers to proceed with their proposed merger. The agreement is now pending court approval. The divestitures are fairly extensive compared to the concessions required in previous airline mergers. The airlines will have to sell 104 slots (52 pairs) at Reagan Washington National, 34 (17 pairs) at New York LaGuardia, and two airport gates and the associated ground facilities at each of Boston Logan, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles International and Miami International. The slots at Reagan National aren't a surprise, and speculation that a deal would also require slots at LaGuardia grew last week as details of the negotiations leaked out. But the divestitures from non-slot-constrained airports break new ground, though the DOJ has previously recognized that entry can be difficult at even non-slot-constrained hub airports, and cited that as a consideration in its merger analysis. The DOJ, which will have approval authority over the sale of the slots and gates, has expressed a hope that the assets will end up with LCCs such as Southwest and JetBlue.