May 3, 2024 - News

San Antonio hopes for a direct D.C. flight reignited

A Delta flane ascends into the sky near the nation's capital.

Delta and other groups have pushed for more flights. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

San Antonio has another chance at getting nonstop service to Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C., under a new bill in Congress.

Why it matters: San Antonio does not currently have nonstop service to DCA, which supporters have long argued limits business and travel opportunities.

State of play: Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — two senators from states that would gain from more long-haul D.C.-area flights — struck the compromise this week.

  • A coalition supporting the proposal says the "bipartisan compromise represents a win for air travelers who suffer from some of the highest domestic ticket prices in the country" because of limits on air travel.

Context: National Airport currently restricts flights to a perimeter of 1,250 miles, allowing 20 roundtrip flights to operate outside of this boundary.

  • The proposal would add five more flights.

Zoom in: This week, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) showed his support for the bill, saying San Antonio is "losing out" without direct flights to the nation's capital.

  • He pointed out that 96 smaller U.S. cities have direct flights.

Meanwhile, U.S. senators from Maryland and Virginia warn National Airport is already "overburdened."

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Congress: "We would be concerned about the pressure that that could put on the system."

What's next: The proposal is tucked into a large FAA reauthorization bill, which will need full approval before a May 10 deadline.

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