Topic of the Week: New Flights in Washington

Ok, Bill from DC, this one is for you. Let’s talk new flights at Washington/National airport. There is a lot going on these days.

  • American will use an exemption to fly from National to LA
  • Delta will use an exemption to add a 2nd daily flight from National to Salt Lake
  • United will use an exemption to start National to San Francisco
  • Virgin America wants to use an exemption to also do National to San Francisco
  • Southwest has applied for a different slot to fly to Oklahoma City (and then on to Dallas)
  • Frontier wants that same slot to fly to Louisville
  • US Airways wants to keep that slot flying to Jackson, MS

If you really want to keep up on this, follow Dan Webb over at Things in the Sky. But for now, let’s get talking. What will US Airways do with its slot exemption? Who will get the four beyond perimeter slots for new entrants? Will Sarah find out that her husband has been cheating on her with her sister? Tune in next time on Slots of our Lives.

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60 Comments on "Topic of the Week: New Flights in Washington"

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marshall
Member

I had wondered if US might try DCA-SFO to feed its Star Alliance partner, UA, but now that UA is adding its own flight, I’m unsure. Would an extra flight to PHX work in all this? On a tacitly related note, I’ve booked myself on the inaugural AA flight from DCA to LAX….my first true airplane geek move. :)

James Burke
Guest

With a ramped up hub, I don’t really see US going to PHX. My gut says San Diego – Everyone flies to their hubs from there, so it is not AA or UA or DL country, so it is less likely than bashing into someone else’s hometown (SEA, PDX, LAX, SFO). I don’t know, but SAN is a big navy town, and that could fill a 320…
Also, Sarah will have to emerge from her coma first – until then her sister and husband will get off scot free…

George McCary
Guest

“Slots of our lives” LOL!!! and careful Cranky-the PC police could brand you the next Rush

Demo
Guest

Sorry George, it’s one thing to laugh at the absurdity of it all, but lets be clear, it wasn’t the “PC police” it’s just common decency that says it’s wrong to defame a student who comes to testify to congress by calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute”.

CF – i like the pun though!

DesertGhost
Guest
It’s important to distinguish between the beyond perimeter slots and those within. I’ll only address the beyond perimeter flying. None of the thus far announced routes were surprising. AA’s only beyond perimeter “cornerstone” is LAX, no brainer. DL’s selection of SLC is also wise, as is UA’s to SFO. US Airways has a different “problem.” It’s large presence at DCA gives it many good options. Nothing US will do will surprise me. I predict (more like speculate) it will likely go to SAN, but I also feel it will go somewhere where it has the exclusive authority. The “big four’s”… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest

Speaking of “slots” I saw a story in USA TODAY a while back about the possibility of Midway Airport (I think, maybe O’Hare?) getting slot machines to help fund the cost of airport improvements. I opined under my USA TODAY nom-de-plume that, if Midway or O’Hare got slots, they at some point could pull off a “slot swap” with LAS, which obviously, already has slot machines. Just a very dumb attempt at “humor.” I’m wondering why I’m reiterating it here. Maybe it’s because of Cranky’s soap opera reference or … maybe it’s because I don’t learn well.

Bill from DC
Guest

LOL, don’t worry, I laughed!

Andrew
Guest
Everyone is quick to say US will fly to SAN or SFO (although SFO maybe less likely now) with their slot exemption. However, keep in mind that they may have an equipment issue with these routes. I’ve seen much speculation among pilots that US’s A319’s don’t have the short field performance to carry a full passenger load from DCA to California. In fact, reading Dan Webb’s blog, as Cranky mentioned, David Cush at Virgin mentions they can’t fly this route until they’ve upgraded the engine thrust on their 319’s, and can’t fly it with 320’s until they have the “sharklets”… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest

That could be part of the reason US has waited this long to announce its choice. It may be checking on the availability of its 757s (or if it can acquire a couple in the aftermarket). The A320 can make it to SAN, if there are no strong headwinds. US may also have some “East” vs. “West” issues to resolve. I didn’t mention this possibility in my comment, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see US go to SJU. It would make more sense for jetBlue, since it has a budding hub there.

Andrew
Guest

Don’t the A319’s have better range than the A320’s? All the talk I’ve seen seems to indicate that it would have to be a 319 to get to the coast (if it can even go that far), given the short runway at DCA…

DesertGhost
Guest
Yes. A319s do theoretically have better range. But from what I understand, all US’s Airbus aircraft can make it between DCA and SAN unless headwinds are too strong. The distance between DCA and SAN is 2276 statute miles (per Great Circle Mapper). It’s 2442 miles (166 milles more) between DCA and SFO, which can make a difference. The A320/A321’s advertised “range” is around 3000 nautical miles (3900 for the A319). A nautical mile is 1.15 times more than a statute mile, so the ranges in statute miles range from 3450 to 4485. But theory is theory. Real world conditions affect… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest

Just to be clear, I also wrote that US may be checking to see if it can free up (or purchase) a 757 for the route. it’s just speculation at this point.

Andrew
Guest

Believe me, I’m not saying I trust everything I’ve read on aviation-related blogs or forums, just that I’ve seen several people who are real-life pilots suggest that the 6869′ runway at DCA may be too short for a US Airways Airbus aircraft with enough fuel to get to SAN to get off the ground (with enough passengers onboard to make money).

Again, emphasizing the “may” part of this, and that I’m sure only US Airways knows for certain. But I do think it’s an interesting addition to the equation in which route is chosen.

DesertGhost
Guest

Andrew, to be clear, I’m not saying that what you’ve written isn’t an issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if it is. But from what I’ve read, it seems the problem may only exist in winter when the headwinds get strong. But who knows but the airline and its pilots. In any event, we’ll know more by Monday.

David SF eastbay
Member
This week former San Francisco Mayor/current LT Governor of California came out support Virgin America for SFO-DCA service. I thought that interesting since UA already said they were starting service and is the big boy in town. That could be why if favors Virgin America to help get both to service the route. Which brings the question, since beyond perimeter routes are rare, should more then one carrier be permitted in the same city pair? Logic would say any slot controlled city pair should be based on traffic and not because some old Congressman wants a route or some airline… Read more »
SEAN
Guest

Politics as usual, plane & simple. LOL

DesertGhost
Guest
David, United has one beyond perimeter slot pair guaranteed to it as an incumbent at DCA (as do US, AA and DL). It doesn’t have to get approval, but simply “give up” a current inside perimeter slot pair to a “large hub” airport (which it will do, to ORD I believe). So the mayor “favoring” VX over UA (if that’s what he’s saying) is moot. I’m sure the mayor would like to see more than one flight on the DCA-SFO route, however (and the competition that goes along with it). I think VX has a very good shot at getting… Read more »
SEAN
Guest

Didn’t you know that Sarah & her sister Lisa are twins? And then there’s Katy Sarah’s best friend.

SEAN
Guest

One thing to consider is the millatary/ capital influence of these new routes to DCA such as San Diego that was already mentioned.

As for the Slots of Our Lives, I guess none of you have herd about Katy. She is Sara’s best friend & former college roommate, but she is off her medication. Who knows what she is capable of doing in that state.

Bill from DC
Guest
Awwwww, Cranky, I feel so honored!!! As such, this epistle will likely be so long that nobody will read it except maybe you. As others have noted, this is basically two or three different subjects. The first is the ability of the four legacy carriers to convert an existing slot pair to a hub into ANY beyond-perimeter slot pair. There has been some confusion on this but this action did not require any DOT approval. I think there were two no-brainers (UA to SFO and AA to LAX) and feel very happy that we DCAers are FINALLY going to have… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest
I read through your epistle and I agree with most of it. A few comments. First, I think B6’s best choice is SJU, as I wrote above and for exactly the reasons you brought out. Second, I agree US will not add a fourth flight to PHX, unless it does so to “park” the slot. Don’t forget, it can change its mind and go virtually anywhere. I feel its best choices are SAN or SJU (if B6 doesn’t go there). My last point: OKC is within the perimeter. I believe it and F9 are applying for the slot US is… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest
Thx for the clarifications. US could park the flight but would only think that would happen if there is a time limit they must adhere to in order exercise the conversion of the existing slot to a beyond-perimeter slot. I, too, think US will end up at SAN if it can sort out the ac issues. Agreed that the divested DL slot should not go to US, as you said, they have plenty of new slots coming to serve a place like JAN. Would like for it to go to WN. Biggest problem new airlines have at DCA is gathering… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest
There is a “delegate” from Puerto Rico in the House of Representatives (with the same status as the DC delegate). But the main reason I think B6 or US should fly DCA-SJU is that it appears to make good business sense, and especially for B6. On the other hand, if the route has lost half of its existing service, there may be a reason. On the surface it seems there may be enough government traffic to make the route produce decent yields, since DCA is the preferred airport for political types, and San Juan is the Capital city of Puerto… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest

The reason for the reduction in the DC area’s service to SJU was related solely to AA’s pullout from SJU. IIRC AA had 2x to IAD and 1x to BWI in addition to UA’s daily from IAD and a weekly FL flight from BWI. Since then, the FL flight went 1.429x (1 flight 4 days of the week, 2 flights on the other 3 days) but that’s it. Hardly a replacement for the “lost” service that, presumably, AA wasn’t running for charity purposes.

DesertGhost
Guest

Thanks for the clarification.

DesertGhost
Guest

By the way, your first point is quite correct. I’m not sure of the mandatory time frames (I read that part of the bill but forgot what it said, old age, I guess). If US can implement a route anytime it chooses, the whole PHX parking exercise is unnecessary.

CP
Guest

The Alaska DCA-SEA flight is already twice daily.

Bill from DC
Guest

Ohh, you’re right, thanks! Must have confused it with the AS LAX flight.

Sanjeev M
Guest
Bill as a fellow Washingtonian I’m just as excited for more options at DCA! Now you’ve basically outlined most of the scenarios. For Caribbean, both DCA and BWI have so much Florida and of course like CLT and ATL every 5 minutes! Given that B6 might do SJU but I see AUS more likely with congressional reps. I just would like a nonstop to SAN, I don’t care what airline. If US is having aircraft issues, then its AS, or even a DL dartboard route on a 738. In the long run, I also feel JAN cannot support a DCA… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest
You want your Caribbean long weekend to rely on ATL connections?! :-) I think anybody should be interested in SAN, will be interested to see who steps up and takes it. A DL dartboard run would make sense but it won’t be them since they already announced another SLC flight pair. Not sure about JAN but I know that it fits in with much of the new service US announced in January to be served with its new slots (e.g., PNS, TLH, VPS, and SAV not to mention Jacksonville NC and Fayetteville NC). Those cities are all 1x to DCA… Read more »
noahkimmel
Member

Cranky–why haven’t we heard from Jetblue? You would think with all of their DCA build up lately, that they would want as many beyond-perimeter slots as possible. Can their 320’s not make it to LGB/LAX or SFO/OAK?

Are they just not announcing their plans to pursue the slots? After the auction, are they eligible?

Gary
Guest
OK. all great speculation. Now, time for the “history lesson.” TWA was the “first” to fly beyond the perimeter and under two different circumstances. The first one, many of you will know (including and especially Cranky): TWA flew non-stop DCA-LAX with a 757 when the first “beyond the perimeter” opportunity arose in the mid-90s. After AA took over TW, it wanted to continue with (“grandfathered”?) the route but politics and Senator McCain got the slot handed to AW and it began its PHX service. (there may have been a couple of other similar awards at the same time but who’s… Read more »
jboekhoud
Member

I’m going to join the rampant speculation on new entrants and say Westjet to Calgary. Those Keystone XL lobbyists hate connections.

As for in-perimeter slot swaps, how about Porter to Toronto? They’re starting service to IAD, but given their preference for central airports like MDW and YTZ I think DCA is a better fit for their model.

Michael
Guest

Unfortunately Porter to YTZ won’t work because they don’t have pre-clearance there.

I believe US will go to SJU. SAN just is too seasonal, even with a 319.

Bill from DC
Guest

Yep, Porter to DCA would be perfect but no pre-clearance at either airport. Was surprised to see Porter pick IAD instead of BWI to come to this area, especially with IAD as a UA / Star Alliance (which has AC) stronghold.

Vinay Bhaskara
Guest
IMHO, the best way to do this is to ignore the current exemptions (PHX, DEN, LAX, SEA, SLC, LAS) and look at which cities have the most un-served O&D demand and judge which ones carriers will choose. In descending order, here are the largest unserved beyond perimeter destinations from DCA: SFO SAN AUS SAT TUS SNA SJU PDX ABQ COS HNL All of these cities have at least 100 O+D pax PDEW and high yields ($0.17 plus). Within this construct, we can immediately eliminate HNL for practical reasons of a/c limitations. SFO has already been asked for by UA and… Read more »
Bill from DC
Guest
Great post, that is exactly the kind of information that is really helpful in this kind of analysis! Especially being able to provide yield information. One question – why did SJU not make your “final” list? Also, I don’t think F9 can just change one of its MKE flights to another destination (CF or others might know more about how that would work). Even if it is able to do so, it certainly can’t change it to a beyond-perimeter destination. Their only ability to serve COS is to win one of the four new beyond-perimeter, limited service carrier slots.
Chris
Guest

Does anyone know why UA is not using a 757 on the new DCA-SFO route? Also, the time of the flights aren’t very business travel friendly. Any explanation for this?

David SF eastbay
Member

Chris UA timed their flights for Transpacific connections in both directions.

jboekhoud
Member

I don’t see UA’s logic there.

If you’re heading to Asia, surely it would be easier (and faster) to go direct from IAD or connect through EWR.

As for SYD, the timing’s off unless you have a fondness for 11 hour layovers.

noahkimmel
Member

Frankly, I would like to see Jetblue get Austin and San Juan, and Alaka get Portland, and Southwest get Vegas.
This would be a great distribution of the 4 slots available to 4 cities not currently served. While it creates a monopoly on each of these routes, it beats 4-5 airlines all competing for SFO/LA flights when IAD already offers so many of them.

Bill from DC
Guest

It wouldn’t create a monopoly to LAS, US already flies that from DCA daily

Bill from DC
Guest

Here are the applications announced 3/12:

VX to SFO
AS to PDX and SAN
B6 to SJU and AUS

Once we hear from WN, it’s gonna get reeeeaaaaalllllly interesting!

Sanjeev M
Guest

WN asking for SAN-AUS-DCA
F9 asking for SAN-COS-DCA

VX asking SFO is double daily
AC asking DCA-YVR timed for Asia connections.

Sanjeev M
Guest
Bill from DC
Guest

Shocked to see no SAT applications (despite two AUS applications) and also shocked that WN only made one application. Should be interesting!

Bill from DC
Guest

Another, albeit unlikely, application is SY to LAS. Truthfully, I forgot SY was at DCA but that shouldn’t be surprising since I’m not very interested in flying to Lansing or in one-stop flights to MSP.

Still no word from NK which is a bit of a surprise considering they already have a presence at DCA.

Sanjeev M
Guest
Interesting that SJU is A320 and AUS is E190. That might hurt B6 to AUS as WN is proposing a 738 and DOT likes higher capacity given the same destination. I would have thought WN goes for SAT. I don’t buy any of the same plane to other interesting places nonsense. Why would I connect in AUS or COS if I can already do it at DEN, ORD, DTW, MSP, DFW, IAH, CLT, ATL, and whatever my favorite in-perimeter hub is. Also the a.net thread says SY to LAS, which is already flown by US. And we haven’t heard anything… Read more »
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