Southwest Airlines is calling on its customers in the greater Kansas City area to join an online petition – found at www.kctodc.com – that asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to grant Southwest the permanent authority to continue operating the only daily, low-fare, large-jet nonstop service between Kansas City International Airport (KCI) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
Without Southwest's daily nonstop service between the nation's capital and Kansas City, Kansas City area travelers would be left with three regional jet flights (with an average capacity of 63 seats per flight) offered by US Airways, according to a Southwest press release.
"Three other airlines are seeking the KCI-DCA slots exemptions in question but would use them to serve other markets to/from Washington, D.C.," said Ron Ricks, executive vice president and chief legal/regulatory officer. "Specifically, if awarded the slots exemptions, these other airlines would fly between DCA and either Jacksonville, FL; Long Island, NY; or Myrtle Beach, SC. Kansas City is now in competition with these other cities for service to/from DCA."
Southwest has been operating jet service to DCA on a temporary authority since February, when the route became available after Frontier Airlines abandoned the KCI-DCA market.
Flight access to DCA is restricted and airlines are required to obtain "slots" or "slot exemptions" in order to serve Washington, DC's only "downtown" airport. At KCI, Southwest Airlines operates nearly 70 nonstop departures a day to 22 cities.