United drops plans to purchase more slots at Newark airport

By Legal News Line | Apr 8, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) — The Department of Justice has announced United Continental Holdings Inc. (United) has dropped plans to purchase 24 takeoff and landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport.

In November, the department attempted to block the acquisition, alleging the move would violate Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act because it would increase United’s slot share at Newark from 73 to 75 percent. The enhancement of United’s already dominant position at Newark could harm passengers by subjecting them to higher fares and fewer choices, the department says.

“This is a great win for Newark travelers and for all American consumers,” said assistant attorney general Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “United has used its slots monopoly to dominate air travel in and out of Newark. The FAA’s action opens up Newark to more robust competition and achieves the very outcome we sought in litigation: protecting consumers from United’s plan to enlarge its monopoly at Newark.”

The Federal Aviation Administration created takeoff and landing slots at Newark in 2008 to limit the number of flights serving the airport, thereby reducing congestion. United holds 902 slots, and no other airline holds more than 70. The dropped acquisition would have given United 926 slots, about 75 percent of the total amount at the airport.

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