United Airlines and Continental Airlines Transfer Assets to Southwest Airlines in Response to Department of Justice’s Antitrust Concerns
Department of Justice Closes Investigation, Transfer of Newark, N.J., Assets Resolves Competition Concerns
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that in light of the agreement by United Airlines Inc. and Continental Airlines Inc. to transfer takeoff and landing rights (slots) and other assets at Newark Liberty Airport to Southwest Airlines Co., the department has closed its investigation into the proposed merger of UAL Corporation, the parent of United, and Continental. United and Continental entered into the arrangement with Southwest in response to the department’s principal concerns regarding the competitive effects of the proposed United/Continental merger.
The department conducted a thorough investigation. The proposed merger would combine the airlines’ largely complementary networks, which would result in overlap on a limited number of routes where United and Continental offer competing nonstop service. The largest such routes are between United’s hub airports and Continental’s hub at Newark airport, where Continental has a high share of service and where there is limited availability of slots, making entry by other airlines particularly difficult. The transfer of slots and other assets at Newark to Southwest, a low cost carrier that currently has only limited service in the New York metropolitan area and no Newark service, resolves the department’s principal competition concerns and will likely significantly benefit consumers on overlap routes as well as on many other routes. The slot transfer is through a lease that permanently conveys to Southwest all