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Order 2008-3-25 - AirTran Airways - Granting Request to Reassign the Operating Times of Two Slots at DCA
Issued March 25, 2008 | Served March 28, 2008
By this order, the Department is granting the request of AirTran Airways, Inc. to reassign the operation of its two 2100 hour slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, one each to the 1300-1359 and 1400-1459 periods. The terms of this order require AirTran to utilize the re-timed slots to provide an additional daily nonstop round trip to Atlanta, Georgia, with 137-seat Boeing 737-700 aircraft.
The Department has granted slot slide requests to a new entrant or limited incumbent carrier that demonstrated a lack of flexibility in otherwise addressing a service requirement, and further demonstrated such circumstances as the importance of a slot slide to maintain an overall connecting operation (Order 1994-9-49); to strengthen an airport as a competitive alternative hub (Orders 1999-11-4 and 2000-10-32); to meet increasing demand in a market (Order 2000-7-20), or to inaugurate service to a new market (Order 2000-2-33); and where a limited number of slots received via lottery had little utility and if restricted to their times would have frustrated the purpose of the lottery (Order 2003-9-30).
Here, as in other typical precedent cases, AirTran’s DCA slot portfolio greatly limits its ability to adjust and expand its service offerings, but its relatively small slot holdings are not exceptional per se; rather, they are a typical circumstance held by recent entrants to the airport. Here, however, as AirTran has presented in its February 20 supplement, grant of these exemptions will enable the carrier to enhance its service in both the local DCA-ATL market and in thirty-three connecting markets that AirTran serves beyond Atlanta, and provide low-fare service options to such large connecting markets as Dallas and Los Angeles. These afternoon flights would, as AirTran asserts, “significantly increase a wide array of connecting opportunities,” maintaining a “benefit for travelers and dozens of communities” that “would be lost if AirTran is unable to keep the ATA slots in the same hours as operated by ATA.” These factors are sufficient to meet the statutory requirement of exceptionality, as defined by Congress.
By: Michael Reynolds