U.S. Approves Southwest, Virgin for LaGuardia Slots

DALLAS (AP) -

The government will let Southwest Airlines and Virgin America buy takeoff and landing rights at LaGuardia Airport that American Airlines and US Airways agreed to sell to win approval for their merger.

The airlines disclosed Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration had approved transfer of the rights, which are also called slots, earlier last week.

Slots are limited at the busy airport near Manhattan, making them a coveted item when they go on the market.

Last month, American and US Airways agreed to give up some of their slots at LaGuardia and Washington’s Reagan National Airport to settle an antitrust lawsuit that the Justice Department filed to block their merger.

Southwest will get to keep the rights for five takeoffs and landings per day that it was already leasing from American and gain enough slots for six more daily flights. Virgin America will get enough slots for six flights per day. The extra slots are expected to expand access to New York for low-fare customers.