(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co will more than double its flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this year with new nonstop routes to cities including Akron-Canton, Ohio; Indianapolis and Dallas Love Field, it said on Monday.
The Dallas-based carrier is adding the flights after it bought takeoff and landing rights that formerly belonged to American Airlines Group at the airport near Washington. American agreed to divest the rights under a deal with the U.S. government that cleared the way for its merger late last year.
In addition to the new routes, Southwest plans to use the slots it acquired to add nonstop flights between Reagan National and Chicago Midway, Houston Hobby, St. Louis and other U.S. airports it serves. With the additional slots, Southwest will be increasing service at Reagan National to 44 daily departures from 17.
Starting on August 10, Southwest will add daily service between Reagan National and Chicago Midway; Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans. At the end of September, Southwest plans three more roundtrip flights to Chicago Midway out of Reagan National, as well as two roundtrip flights to and from Tampa Bay, Florida.
In early November, Southwest will start service to Akron-Canton, Dallas Love Field and Indianapolis, and add nonstop flights between Reagan National and St. Louis and Houston Hobby airport.
In a statement, Southwest said it would bring lower fares to Reagan National, a popular, gate-restricted airport that serves the political and business communities.
American's former parent, AMR Corp, and US Airways Group agreed to give up 52 pairs of takeoff and landing rights, or 104 slots, at Reagan National as well as gates at five other airports to settle an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department seeking to block their merger. The merger was completed in December.
Southwest successfully bid for 54 slots at Reagan National, and New York-based JetBlue Airways also won slots at that airport from American. Southwest also acquired slots at New York's LaGuardia Airport that American agreed to sell.
Shares of Southwest Airlines were up 0.2 percent at $23.22 on Monday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by Tom Brown and Matthew Lewis)