American-US Airways gate divestitures in hands of airport operators

Washington DC
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Local airport operators will have control over who gets gates at five airports around the USA that American Airlines and US Airways are divesting as part of the merger.

American is simply “trying to figure out which gates to transfer” at Boston Logan, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles International and Miami International airports, says Will Ris, senior vice-president of government affairs at the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier.

“We know we have to relinquish them and we don’t have any ability to determine who gets the gates,” he says.

American must relinquish two gates and related facilities at each of the airports under the settlement that was reached with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in exchange for antitrust approval of the merger.

The carriers closed the deal today, with American’s new chief executive Doug Parker ringing the opening bell for the Nasdaq stock exchange remotely from Fort Worth, Texas.

While the gates have attracted less attention than the 52 slot pairs at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport and 17 pairs at New York LaGuardia that the airline must divest, the divestitures will limit American’s plans to grow at some of the USA’s more constrained airports.

Scott Kirby, president of American, told Flightglobal earlier in December that the carrier must readdress its plans to grow at Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Love and Los Angeles International as a result of the loss of gates.

“We’re going to have to figure out ways to either do more with the gates we have or find ways to grow our facility footprint there,” he said of its operations in Chicago and Los Angeles.

American will also give up gates at Washington National as part of the slot divestitures. It is expected to do the same at LaGuardia airport.

Delta Air Lines has expressed interest in the gates at Dallas Love, and Virgin America has said that it is interested in “any airport assets that could be made available through the settlement process”.

Boston Logan operator Massport, the city of Chicago, the city of Dallas and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) were not immediately available for comment.