American receives approval for Virgin America slot lease

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American Airlines received bankruptcy court approval to lease 15 slots at Newark Liberty International airport to Virgin America today.

The Fort Worth-based carrier will reject its existing lease agreements with Porter Airlines for four slots and United Airlines for 10 slots in order to provide the slots to California-based Virgin America. It plans to terminate the leases on 30 March.

Porter told Flightglobal earlier this month that it had "contingencies" in place in the case that American's motion was approved. The Canadian airline operates up to 13 flights a day from Newark.

United said that the loss of the slots would be mitigated by seasonal changes in its schedule from Newark, which is a large hub for the airline.

The US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York also approved a modified gate lease between American and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). The airline will return three of its six gates in terminal A to the airport operator that, along with other modifications to its lease, will save it $25.4 million through the end of the contract in December 2018.

Virgin America will subsequently lease one of the returned gates from the PANYNJ.