The US Department of Transportation said that reassigning the slots, previously operated by Southwest Airlines (LUV), would secure low-cost options for Newark passengers and improve competition.
Southwest originally operated the slots in 2010 but dropped EWR flights in 2019. Spirit and JetBlue (JBLU) had applied for all 16 of the slots, while Alaska applied for 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, consistent with the Department of Justice’s original competition remedy, and is most likely to provide the lowest fares to the most consumers,” the DoT said in a statement on July 5, 2022.
However, there are conditions attached to the slots, against the backdrop of delays and cancellations that have plagued the aviation industry during the recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DoT is therefore requesting that Spirit provide extra information on delays and how it is helping customers.
“Given the Department’s concern over the recent airline cancellations, delays, challenges with customer service and other operational disruptions that have hurt travelers, the Department is requiring Spirit, as a condition of accepting the timings, to report additional data on disruptions facing their airline customers and its ability to provide them with accommodations.”