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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – People traveling in advance of July 4th are seen at Newark Liberty International Airport. This is Newark, New Jersey. July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By David Shepardson and Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration will announce on Thursday it plans to award 16 slots for flights at Newark International airport in New Jersey to a low-cost carrier to spur competition at the busy northeast U.S. airport, documents seen by Reuters show.

Sources said that the Federal Aviation Administration would announce temporary waivers from minimum flight requirements at major U.S. airports until late March 2022 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Congested airports can result in airlines losing their slot if they don’t use them at least 80 percent of the time.

United is the hub for Newark and flies approximately 65% of all Newark flights. Newark was the 15th most crowded U.S. airport by passengers in 2020.

Polly Trottenberg (Deputy Transportation Secretary) stated that Newark will be open to more low cost airlines, giving air passengers more choice and lower prices.

In May, a U.S. appeals court vacated an FAA October 2019 decision to remove 36 Newark slots that were held by Southwest Airlines (NYSE).

The 36 Newark slots were acquired by Southwest Airlines in 2010, as part of United’s 2010 merger with Continental Airlines.

Southwest later stated in July 2019 it would leave Newark. Spirit, an low-cost airline, requested 16 of the most sought after slots.

Shares of Spirit Airlines (NYSE:) rose on Thursday, trading up 0.7%.

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