JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) outbid rival Southwest (NYSE:LUV) on Thursday for additional spots at airports in New York and Washington D.C.
The discount airliner purchased one bundle of eight slot pairs, which allow for eight roundtrips a day, at New York LaGuardia Airport and another bundle at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
JetBlue says the additional space will enable it to double its presence at both airports next year.
"By nimbly seizing opportunities like this unique auction, we will be able to significantly expand our low fare presence in the nation's capital and our hometown of New York City," said JetBlue's vice president of network planning and partnerships, Scott Laurence.
The Forest Hills, N.Y.-based airline bid $72 million for the slots as part of a Federal Aviation Administration auction. It is expected to have outbid its Dallas-based rival by at least $26.6 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The additional space gives JetBlue 16 slot pairs, or 2.8% of LaGuardia’s capacity, and 17 pairs, or 4%, of Reagan’s capacity, according to the Journal. Southwest owns 19 slots at the New York-based airport and nine and D.C.’s.
The new lots will likely be targeted to business travelers, a JetBlue spokesperson told the Journal, especially since the key New York-to-Washington route represents a common shuttle line for corporate and political travelers.
The acquisition is key for JetBlue, which will soon see its biggest rival, Southwest, purchase AirTran.