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Southwest and Continental enter slot lease at Newark

Southwest Airlines and Continental Airlines have entered into a lease providing Southwest Airlines access to 36 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) slots which are currently held by Continental.

The lease deal, contingent upon the closing of the Continental and United airlines’ merger by 30 November 2010 and certain governmental approvals, would give Southwest Airlines the right to operate up to 18 daily roundtrip flights at Newark, New Jersey, with some flights beginning in March 2011 and a full schedule in place by June 2011. The slots are spread throughout the day and would allow Southwest to integrate Newark service conveniently into its national route network.

"We are excited by the opportunity to initiate service from Newark, New Jersey, and we plan to enable that service starting next March through continued flight schedule optimisation using our existing fleet," said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines executive vice-president of strategy and planning. "We’ve seen tremendous demand for Southwest Airlines in the New York City/Newark area in the past year. Adding Newark provides an excellent complement to our LaGuardia and Long Island services, giving customers one more option for travel to and from the greater New York City/New Jersey area. This service also will provide a needed injection of low fares and competition into the New York/Newark market."

Southwest is working with the FAA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Continental and United Airlines to finalise arrangements for commencing its Newark service in March 2011, including the approval of the acquisition of the necessary airport gates and facilities.

"The divestiture of slots at Newark by the combined Continental/United will ensure competition is enhanced, and we appreciate the Department of Justice’s role in finding a fair solution," Jordan commented.

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