The only way for American Airlines to compete in New York is by teaming up with a smaller partner, according to the airline. It is not possible for American to schedule more departures and arrivals from the capacity controlled New York airports.
As a result of its merger with US Airways, American gave away slots it had previously held.
If American hadn't forgotten about them, it might have had a stronger presence in New York.
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The FAA reclaimed seven slots from American in the new year after an audit found that the airline was under utilizing the coveted use-it-or-lose-it spots.
The slots were forgotten about after the merger with US Airways.
Raja, who used to manage the airline's network, said that accounting and combining slots was a manual process. There is no good reason for it to happen.
He admitted that it was for the worst of reasons. It makes us sound crazy.
The slots came up during a discussion about American's plans to expand and change its service at Boston and JFK.
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Raja confirmed in an email that they had agreed to give the slots to the FAA because they weren't being used.
There is a government rule that allows airlines to control airports.
Raja wrote that they should not cast this as lost slots. No one knew our true baseline because we didn't use all of our slots for a long time.
The FAA thought the airline had 200 slots after it lost seven, while Raja thought it had 216. The two agreed that American would be allowed to hold onto more than 200 slots.
The "slot" system governs takeoffs and landings at the world's busiest airports as a way of regulating traffic flow and avoiding both dangerous overcrowding and anti-competitive actions by some airlines. Three airports in the U.S. are slot controlled, while a fourth is schedule controlled, which is a similar system with several differences.
The number of slots is finite, and all slots are governed by the FAA, unless an airport builds a new runway or another way to increase capacity. A "slot pair" is a representation of one of the two takeoffs or landings.
American wants to compete in the New York market which is dominated by Delta and United. According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, JetBlue was the largest airline at JFK in the 12 month period ending in July, 2022.
The two airlines argue that they can be formidable competitors against Delta- United if they combine their slots at JFK with American's.
While the alliance was cleared in the waning days of the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice sued in 2021.
American has added 6 new routes as a result of the Northeast Alliance tie-up.
In the 18 months since the alliance's approval, fares have not increased and consumers have had better choices, according to the airlines.
The alliance creates one single, stronger, and relevant competitor out of two weak ones, according to a lawyer for JetBlue.
The trial is expected to go on for up to three weeks. The American Airlines CEO and the former CEO of the airline are expected to testify. Network planners for the airlines are expected to testify. It could take weeks or months for a decision from the district judge.
The NEA trial is being reported from the U.S. district court in Boston.