Five Airlines Compete for Slots at Washington Reagan

Five airlines — Southwest, Republic, AirTrain, US Airways and Sun County Airlines — have applied for the rare opportunity to claim a single pair of slots at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, according to industry reports.

The slots, which will allow one of the above airlines to operate a single daily roundtrip flight, became available last year when Republic Holdings acquired Midwest and Frontier Airlines, which were then merged under the Frontier brand. Although Midwest had three Washington slot pairs, which currently are dedicated to service between Washington and Kansas City, one of those slots was non-transferable, having been awarded under a program meant to encourage entry and/or new flights to deserving markets. The Department of Transportation therefore ruled earlier this year that it would reallocate the slot pair and invite airlines to apply for it.

Republic, which disputed DOT's ruling, reapplied to keep the slots and promised to continue using them to service Kansas City. Southwest, which currently has no slots at Reagan, also wants to use them to service Kansas City, although it recently announced plans to acquire AirTran, which in its own application has proposed using them to service Fort Myers or Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. US Airways, meanwhile — which has more slots at Reagan than any other carrier — wants to use the slots for service to Pensacola, Fla. Finally, Sun County, which has no Washington slots, wants to introduce service to Lansing, Mich., with continuing service to Minneapolis.