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With Merger Vote Pending, Spirit Wins Slots at Newark Liberty

As Spirit Airlines shareholders prepare to decide on the airline’s fate, the discount airline may have another complication to navigate: 20 new slots at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Although Spirit Airlines shareholders are once again days away from voting on the merger proposal with Frontier Airlines, leaders for the carrier could have one more issue to settle.


The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Miramar, Fla.-based airline earned 16 slots at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), beating both Alaska Airlines and JetBlue for the takeoff and landing rights.


Although Spirit Wins Slots, Future on Their Use is Unclear

The decision was announced on July 5, 2022, after months of speculation on who would earn the former slots held by Southwest Airlines. After the U.S. DOT said the slots would be prioritized for low-cost carriers, JetBlue applied to win all 16, while Alaska Airlines wanted four.


“After reviewing the applications against the decisional criteria announced by the Department, the Department found that Spirit will best be able to provide competition with all 16 timings,” the DOT wrote in a press release. “Consistent with the Department of Justice’s original competition remedy, and is most likely to provide the lowest fares to the most consumers.”


While the slots will be a boost to Spirit and future operations in the nation’s largest aviation marketplace, it will come with additional terms. First, the airline will need to report additional data to the DOT regarding “disruptions facing their airline customers and its ability to provide them with accommodations.” The additional information will allow the government to ensure the discount carrier is working towards their customer commitments, while quantifying the actual cost of disruptions on customers.


Spirit Airlines has not commented on the DOT’s decision to award them all 16 slots, or how they would use them. It is unknown how the slots would be used to expand Spirit’s presence or routes at Newark.


Slot Awards Comes Prior to Merger Decision

The newly awarded slots comes as Spirit considers proposal offers from both Frontier Airlines and JetBlue. While it is unclear how the new slots would affect a merger with Frontier, JetBlue previously announced they would divest slots in both Boston and New York – which could complicate the awarding of the new slots if Spirit decides to move forward with the New York-based airline.

jayer July 10, 2022

Ah yes.  Kind of like when AA bought TWA except AA got into a bidding war with itself.  Air travel was booming.  They wanted the pilots.  They wanted the late-model MD-80's.  They even wanted the mechanics and the Kansas City maintenance facility. 

Within a brief time air travel was way down and they grounded more airplanes than they acquired, laid off more pilots than they gained, and closed the Kansas City and Alliance maintenance facilities.

The only long-term winners here will be early Spirit stockholders who cash out at a good profit.