UPDATE: CO-UA merger OKd; SW gets Newark slots

Southwest Airlines announced it would start service at Newark Liberty next March, a move that's great for NY area residents ...  but it could draw some traffic away from PHL. Philly has drawn North Jersey residents since Southwest started here six years ago. Southwest is able to start at Newark after United and Continental, as part of its proposed merger, agreed to lease the Dallas-based carrier 18 pairs of slots. A takeoff and a landing is one pair. Read more about it here ..  

UPDATE: Here is the underlying story: The Justice Department approved the CO-UA merger, finding that there was too little overlap -- except at Newark -- of the airlines' routes to turn it down. The transaction still needs U.S. Department of Transportation approval. Will it be rubber-stamped with no further changes? Wait and see.

MORE UPDATING: Reregulation anyone? Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House transportation and infrastructure committee, who opposed the merger, said it's time to reregulate the airlines. With just four network airlines left, he raises again that question that should be of concern to all PHL travelers: Can a merger of US Airways and American be far behind?

Remember you heard it here first: PHL would make a good trans-Atlantic gateway for American, which is at a disadvantage already for getting connecting traffic from its domestic network through New York JFK to Europe. Yes, American has the tie-up wth British Airways approved that will give it more lift to Europe, particularly to London Heathrow. But its two (soon-to-be) larger rivals are bruisers, with foundations in the New York area. Delta is bigger than American at JFK and United is going to be even more of a behemoth at Newark after its merger with Continental.

What's the most interesting, provocative thought I've heard from an analyst related to US Airways and American? Wall Street has more respect for the way US CEO Doug Parker has turned the airline around than it has for the skills of any American executives. So, like the CO-UA merger, where the acquired (Continental) carrier's CEO (Jeff Smisek) gets to run the new combined entity, perhaps Doug will be movng to the DFW area someday to run American. Unless of course, the headquarters stays in Arizona or moves to a place on the East Coast with a good trans-Atlantic hub.