Spirit Airlines Unhappy With Newark Movement Allocations

Spirit Airlines is unhappy with how movements have been allocated at Newark Airport. The airline is so unhappy, in fact, that it is taking the Department of Transportation to court over the matter.

Spirit Airlines, Department of Transportation
Spirit Airlines is taking the Department of Transportation to court. Photo: Airbus

When Southwest Airlines decided that it no longer needed 16 movements at Newark Airport, other airlines were keen to snap them up. However, the Department of Transportation decided that it would not reallocate those movement rights. Spirit Airlines is unhappy with this decision, and as a result, is taking the DOT to court over the matter according to The Points Guy.

What is the deal with movements in Newark?

Newark Liberty International Airport used to be a slot controlled airport. This meant that the airport had a set number of slots, and these were all allocated to an airline. Take London’s Heathrow Airport for example. Slots there are so hard to get a hold of that it was major news for Norwegian Airlines to secure 6. Newark was using the slot system until 2017.

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Meanwhile, Newark Airport now has what is known as a “schedule-facilitated” regime in place. That means that rather than issuing a set number of slots, the regulator works with airlines to try and work out what is best for both parties.

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Spirit Airlines, Department of Transportation
The airline claims 16 former Southwest movements should be handed to other operators. Photo: Airbus

Why is Spirit Airlines unhappy?

When United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines in 2010, the new entity was required to give up 16 slots per day to Southwest Airlines. However, now that Southwest has no need for them, the Department of Transportation has decided not to share these out with other airlines.

Clearly Spirit Airlines believes that it should be at least offered the chance to replace Southwest’s 16 daily movements at Newark. Otherwise, there would be little point in launching legal action over the matter.

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In its filing with the court, Spirit alleges that the Department of Transportation is being “arbitrary and capricious” and of committing “an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law.” In essence, it believes that the Department of Transportation should be reallocating these rights. Something that the Department of Transportation has yet to do as it tries to cut congestion at the airport.

Spirit Airlines, Department of Transportation
Spirit Airlines surely feels it has a case to present. Photo: Airbus

Currently, according to The Points Guy, The Department of Transportation has set a limit of 79 movements at Newark Airport per hour. This means a takeoff or landing roughly every 50 seconds during busy times.

Simple Flying has contacted a Spirit Airlines representative regarding this story. The story will be updated as appropriate with any comments received.

Do you think the Department of Transportation should have issued the rights for Southwest’s 16 unused movements to other airlines? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Joe

NK STOP WHINING!

Geoffrey Farrance

At least the slots should be re-allocated, if only, on one per hour basis, so as not to saturate the demand on the ATC