PHOTO: The DOT has tentatively assigned 24 highly coveted slot pairs from Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport. (Photo via Flickr/S. Alexis)
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively doled out tentative allocations for 24 highly coveted slot pairs out of Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport.
American carriers, collectively, were the big winners with six new slot pairs awarded to JetBlue, and four each to Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Mexican carrier Volaris has been tentatively awarded nine slot pairs, while VivaAerobus earned one.
The DOT also awarded four new slot pairs from JFK to VivaAerobus (two pairs) and Interjet and Volaris (one each.)
The assignments are still tentative and airlines can file objections to the newly designated routes if they so choose. But if finalized, the new slot pairs will mean new or expanded low-fare service from 15 U.S. cities to Mexico’s capital. The new flights will roll out in two phases, with 16 coming online by the end of this year and the additional flights taking to the skies in 2018.
For Alaska Airlines, the new slot pairs will mean new once-daily flights from San Francisco and San Diego and twice-daily flights from LAX.
"We are excited to serve Mexico City nonstop from our three largest California gateways," said John Kirby, vice president of capacity planning at Alaska Airlines. "Service to Benito Juarez International Airport enhances Alaska Airlines' expansive West Coast network and gives our valued guests access to the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere."
The new slot pairs for JetBlue mean new service from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida and from LAX. Southwest is receiving slot pairs from Fort Lauderdale, Houston and LAX, while Volaris will expand service at three California airports: LAX, San Jose and Ontario, as well as offering new service from JFK, Washington-Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, Denver and San Antonio.
The new slots became available after Delta Airlines and AeroMexico were required to give them up as a condition of a joint venture announced by the two airlines late last year.
Said the DOT, “in order to ensure adequate competition in the covered market, thereby making the approval of the alliance pro-consumer, our grant of antitrust immunity (ATI) is subject to a number of conditions,” which included the divestiture of the gates at the two airports.
READ MORE: Delta, Aeromexico agree to DOT’s terms for joint venture.
Delta owns a 4.2 percent share in AeroMexico but has announced it is planning to buy an additional 32 percent of the airline’s shares.