New nonstop flights will be available to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport from four cities that, because of distance, had earlier been ineligible for nonstop service, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports.
DOT selected Alaska Airlines for service to Portland, Ore.; JetBlue Airways for San Juan, Puerto Rico; Southwest Airlines for Austin, Texas and Virgin America for San Francisco. This is Virgin America’s first service at Reagan National, DOT noted. The other carriers currently have only limited service at the airport. Each city will receive one new nonstop roundtrip per day.
“These new flights will provide convenient nonstop service to our nation’s capital for travelers from four major cities,” DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said. “The flights will increase competition for airlines serving Washington, which can lead to lower fares for consumers.”
The new services were made available by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on Feb. 14. The law created eight daily slot exemptions at Reagan National for airlines with little or no service at the airport to serve cities farther than 1,250 miles from Washington.
Airlines cannot fly between Reagan National and cities beyond this limit unless Congress passes a law to authorize it. A slot, or slot exemption, is the right to take off or land at an airport where operations are limited. Two slots are needed for a roundtrip flight, and the law provided for four new roundtrips. The new law also allowed four large carriers already serving Reagan National to exchange slots. As a result, American Airlines will trade one roundtrip flight to Dallas-Fort Worth for a flight to Los Angeles, Delta Airlines Lines will trade one roundtrip flight to New York LaGuardia Airport for a flight to Salt Lake City, United Airlines will trade one roundtrip flight to Chicago O’Hare for a flight to San Francisco, and US Airways will trade one roundtrip flight to Dallas-Fort Worth for a flight to San Diego.