US will give runway rights at NJ airport to a budget airline

Sep 15, 2021, 11:21 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2021, 1:00 pm
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2021 file photo, a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 takes off from Fort Lauderda...

FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2021 file photo, a Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 takes off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The budget airline will get a chance to add flights at the busy airport in Newark, New Jersey, just outside New York City. The Transportation Department said Thursday that it will give coveted afternoon and evening runway rights to a low-cost airline. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Department said Thursday it will give rights for several afternoon and evening flights in Newark, New Jersey, to a budget airline.

The coveted takeoff and landing rights were previously used by Southwest Airlines, which pulled out of Newark Liberty International Airport in 2019 and consolidated its New York City-area operations at LaGuardia Airport.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that it plans to allow a single low-cost or ultra-low-cost carrier to use the Southwest runway slots, which are enough for eight daily round-trip flights. Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg said the move will give travelers more choices and lower prices.

The decision follows a federal court victory earlier this year by Spirit Airlines over the Federal Aviation Administration. Spirit, which wants to expand at Newark, sued after the FAA originally planned to eliminate the Southwest takeoff and landing rights. The FAA said retiring the Southwest slots would reduce congestion.

Spirit and other U.S. discount airlines that operate at Newark did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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US will give runway rights at NJ airport to a budget airline