AAI Says U.S. DOJ Enforcement Action Against United and Delta on Newark Takeoff and Landing Slots is “Big Step in the Right Direction”

Today, the AAI commended the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for taking an important step on the path to restoring competition in critical U.S. airline markets. The government has filed suit against legacy carriers United and Delta alleging violations of Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman Act.

“DOJ has honed in on one of the most troublesome areas of competitive concern — control of takeoff and landing slots — in the U.S. markets,” said AAI President Diana Moss.

Control of slots at congested airports such as Newark is the key to restricting entry and competition from smaller airlines, including low cost carriers and regionals. United already controls 73 percent of allocated slots at Newark and the Big 3 carriers (United, Delta, and American) control 84 percent. The proposed acquisition of still additional slots from Delta at Newark would increase United’s dominance and further concentrate the market.

“The importance of the government’s pursuit of monopolization and conspiracy claims in this case cannot be understated,” said Moss. “The U.S. airline industry is marked by a history of strategic slot swaps, deals, and withholding by and between the large legacy carriers that control the domestic markets. Competition and consumers have suffered greatly for this, and the enforcement action puts them all on notice that we’ve had enough.”