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September 17, 2021updated 20 Sep 2021 9:01am

Newark slots opened to budget airlines to improve competition

Opening up more slots at EWR to lower-cost carriers will provide air travellers with more choices and lower prices.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a notice to the Federal Register stating its intent to offer 16 peak-period slots at Newark-Liberty International Airport (EWR) to a single low-cost or ultra-low-cost carrier.

These slots were previously used by Southwest Airlines.

Opening up of more slots at EWR to lower-cost carriers will provide air travellers with more choices and lower prices, stated USDOT deputy secretary Polly Trottenberg.

This move comes after a ruling by the DC Circuit Court and President Biden’s executive order to improve competition in the American economy.

Department of Justice Antitrust Division acting assistant attorney general Richard Powers said: “The Department of Justice applauds the Department of Transportation’s efforts to preserve competition from low-cost airlines at Newark airport.

“Competition in the airline industry, and at Newark airport in particular, is in critically short supply. Low-cost carriers play an important role in keeping the airline industry competitive and the immense power of the major airlines in check.

“We look forward to working with the Department of Transportation to address similar concerns at capacity-constrained airports, and to bring consumers more choices and lower prices.”

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses runway slots to minimise air traffic at certain capacity constrained airports, including EWR.

This new initiative by USDOT to allow a low or ultra-low-cost carrier to use the limited number of slots will ensure competition among all air carriers.

Recently, USDOT released a report giving details about several actions taken to address the lapses by airline companies to offer timely refunds for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

The measures taken by the USDOT is said to have helped thousands of people get their money back.

USDOT is now planning to add new measures that will further protect air travellers.

These measures include initiating rulemaking, which would improve the rights of passengers when operation is happening but the passenger chooses not to fly due to government restrictions. The existing regulations do not cover this.

The department is also moving forward with rulemaking on ancillary fees, which would require airlines to enhance the transparency of fees for ancillary services.

Last month, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the US announced the piloting of a biometric self-boarding e-gate at EWR to improve customer experience.

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