Will United Airlines Get JetBlue’s Mexico City Slots?

United Airlines could be set to gain JetBlue’s Mexico City slots as the smaller airline pulls out of the city. With 24 slot pairs up for grabs, United has made a move to operate a third daily service between San Fransisco and Mexico City with the upcoming available slots.

United new livery 737 in flight
United wants to take control of JetBlue’s Mexico City slots Photo: United Airlines

What are the details?

JetBlue was awarded four Mexico City slots by the United States Department Of Transport (DOT) back in 2017. These slots were part of the 24 given up by Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico, as part of an agreement to operate a joint venture between the two countries.

The DOT decided that these new slots should go to an airline that did not already operate to Mexico City, or did not have a sizeable network option.

As reported by The Points Guy, United and American Airlines controlled around 15.2% and 15.4% respectively of Mexico City to the USA market. Delta and Aeromexico, operating as one airline control the lion share of 40% of the market. JetBlue and Southwest only serviced around 2.5% and 3% of the total 7.3 million passengers per year.

JetBlue has decided to withdraw from the Mexico City market. Photo: JetBlue

Thus despite American Airlines and United champing at the bit for the slots, they were given to other carriers like JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska. But JetBlue does not seem to have made the route work and will be pulling back its Mexico City service by the end of January 2020 following similar moves by Southwest and Alaska.

Thus the DOT venture to open up Mexico City has indeed failed. So what will happen to the slots?

The Boeing 767-300ER painted in the new United livery. Photo: United Airlines via Twitter

Why does United want the slots?

United Airlines believes where these other carriers failed, they can make it work. They have proposed to begin with a third additional daily service from San Fransisco to Mexico City with an A319, only possible with the JetBlue slots.

“Conditions have changed and the public interest requires a fresh look at, and a reconsideration of, United’s eligibility,United said in its application.Rather than allow the slot pairs to go unused or be returned to Delta/Aeromexico, the [DOT] should award United the divested slot pair… which will enhance competition and provide significant consumer benefits.”

One might argue that they are not wrong, the current goliath that needs to be competed with, Delta and Aeromexico, need an airline like United to introduce competition. After all, it does seem like a better solution that simply returning the slots back to Delta and giving them an even bigger slice of the pie.

And it seems so far that only United has made a grab for these slots, with American Airlines still quiet on whether or not it wants to increase capacity to the Mexican capital.

What do you think? Who should get the Mexico City slots? If you have any suggestions please do us know in the comments.