May 17, 2024 - News

Reagan National Airport's new long-haul flights coming soon

A Southwest airlines airplane flying with Capitol in background

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Reagan National Airport will soon offer five new long-haul, roundtrip flight routes.

Why it matters: Expanding DCA was controversial among local leaders, but Congress ended up approving the additional flights in a recent bill.

How it works: Now, airlines will apply to fill those five new slots.

  • They are coveted because flights out of DCA are limited to a 1,250-mile radius which restricts the number of nonstop flights to the West.
  • San Antonio and San Diego may be poised to fill two of the slots. They are the seventh- and eighth-largest cities in the U.S., respectively, and are not currently served by nonstop service.
  • The Department of Transportation has 60 days to approve applications from airlines.

What's next: After approval, nonstop service is expected to begin later this year.

The intrigue: While Delta and Southwest supported the five new slots, some airliners like United were opposed, perhaps because it would hurt their position at Dulles International Airport.

  • Now, observers wonder if United will still apply for one of the five slots.

Catch up fast: Last year, a campaign supported by Delta and business groups from the West sought to add 28 additional flight slots.

  • But it failed to pass overcapacity concerns and the D.C. region's worry that adding more flights to DCA would hurt the financial viability of Dulles.

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