Aviation News

May 15, 2012

Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America Win Long Distance Routes Out of Washington National

Satellite view of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The US Department of Transportation on Monday awarded slots to four airlines to operate four new long-distance routes out of slot- and perimiter-restricted Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The winning airline-destination combinations are:

Alaska Airlines: Portland, Oregon (Boeing 737-800)
JetBlue Airways: San Juan, Puerto Rico (Airbus A320)
Southwest Airlines: Austin, Texas (Boeing 737-800)
Virgin America: San Francisco (Airbus A319)

The slots will allow each airline to operate one daily round-trip to and from their designated destination. Flights into and out of Reagan National are prohibited from flying routes longer than 1,250 miles without a exemption granted by Congress.

Carriers that either had no or little service at Reagan National were asked to submit applications for the new slots over the past couple of months, along with petitions of public support. Virgin currently has no service at Reagan National, while Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest offer only a handful of flights.

All winning airlines plane to launch their new routes within the next several weeks.

US Airways formerly owned these slots, but was forced by the DOT to divest them as part of a deal in which US swapped hundreds of slots with Delta at Reagan and LaGuardia. An auction 16 LaGuardia slots divested by Delta concluded in November 2011.

Earlier, the DOT granted four exemptions to the airport’s larger carriers, who must use existing slots:

American Airlines: Los Angeles (replaces a Dallas-Fort Worth flight) (Boeing 757-200)
Delta Air Lines: Salt Lake City (replaces a New York-LaGuardia flight) (Boeing 737-800 westbound, 757-200 eastbound)
United Airlines: San Francisco (replaces a Chicago-O’Hare flight) (Boeing 737-700)
US Airways: San Diego (replaces a Dallas-Fort Worth flight)

With seven airlines applying for nine routes and only four awards to be won, there were some losing proposal:

Alaska Airlines: San Diego (Boeing 737-800)
Sun Country Airlines: Las Vegas (Boeing 737-700)
JetBlue Airways: Austin (Embraer E190)
Frontier Airways: Colorado Springs (Airbus A320)
Air Canada: Vancouver (Airbus A319)

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