It's been a busy week in the airline industry. First, and closest to home, is news that Southwest won court approval to purchase ATA's 14 takeoff and landing slots at New York's LaGuardia Airport. The sale can't go into effect until ATA emerges from bankruptcy court, which is expected around March. We'll likely have to wait until then to learn any details about Southwest's plans, and it's possible the airline won't commence that service until the middle of next year. CEO Gary Kelly also hinted at further LaGuardia expansion, saying, "If we decide to grow in the future beyond the 14 slots, I'm reasonably comfortable that we can get more facilities at New York LaGuardia."
A little further afield, Lufthansa appears set to purchase struggling Austrian Airlines for $476 million. The move, combined with forthcoming acquisitions of bmi and Brussels Airlines, will make Lufthansa the largest carrier in Europe. One of Lufthansa's main competitors, British Airways, is in talks to merge with Australian carrier Qantas.
Finally, Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport has reopened after a weeklong siege by antigovernment protesters. The New York Times reports that flights began arriving Wednesday, but full service operations will take until perhaps Friday to resume. The activists were protesting the ongoing political influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The siege ended when a court disbanded the governing party, which protesters said remained loyal to Shinawatra, who faces corruption charges.