Delta Airlines

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against United Continental Holdings Inc. This lawsuit seeks to block United from acquiring more landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport.

United is looking to obtain 24 takeoff and landing slots that Delta Air Lines currently holds at EWR. The company says that because competition between the New York-area airports (EWR, John F. Kennedy, and LaGuardia) is so intense, the additional spots will help them expand their service and will ultimately benefit their customers.

“We will vigorously defend our ability to operate effectively, efficiently and competitively at Newark,” says United in the article.

On the contrary, the Justice Department believes that the additional slots will increase United’s dominance at Newark for the worse.

In the article, Justice Department antitrust chief Bill Baer says, “Allowing United to acquire even more slots at Newark would fortify United’s monopoly position and weaken the ability of other airlines to compete. That would leave the 35 million air passengers who fly in and out of Newark every year holding the bag.”

Right now, United controls 73% (902 of 1,233) of the slots at Newark Airport, and many of them came from the airline’s shift from John F. Kennedy to Newark. When United decided to cease operations at JFK and move to EWR, Delta decided to move many of its flights from EWR to JFK. The airlines swapped slots, however, United is looking for more.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit is a “rare government enforcement action” against United and seeks to prevent the airline from becoming a monopoly.

Do you think more United flights at Newark Airport would be a good thing or a bad thing?