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Not-So-Scrappy Southwest Starts to Look More Like the Bigger Airlines

Southwest Airlines was already a behemoth when federal regulators were grappling over the latest huge merger in the industry, and this year the airline will get even bigger.

Southwest was the dominant winner in the asset auction that federal regulators mandated as part of its approval of American’s merger with US Airways. The carriers were required to divest takeoff and landing slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., as well as airport gates and other assets in several cities. LaGuardia and Reagan are both constrained by U.S. limits on hourly aircraft operations due to congestion, so gaining ground in either venue is a big deal. (In a 2008 blog post, Southwest called its entry into New York City “GINORMOUS!”)