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.

60 Responses to Topic of the Week: New Flights in Washington

  1. 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. :)

    • CF says:

      Congrats on the geeky move there, Marshall. I personally would expect US Airways to look at all the markets beyond the perimeter and choose the best one based on traffic. As has been said, since US has a very strong presence at National, it can really go anywhere and probably support it.

      I think San Diego is a stretch. There is absolutely zero chance they’re going to fly that with a 757. Too much capacity and just not worth it. The only airplane that’s possible would be an A319, and I would think that could make it most days but probably not all. Still, I just don’t know that there’s enough demand.

      I like the Austin idea – that’s the kind of market that would make more sense to me.

  2. 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…

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

    • Demo says:

      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!

  4. 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” ability to change routes will be a big factor, especially for US.

    I get a hunch that a few of the applications may be outside the box. So some more speculation (and that’s all it is): I can see jetBlue applying for SJU, for instance. The only current Caribbean flying is to Nassau and Bermuda, as most destinations are beyond the perimeter. I see Virgin America’s application to SFO as a strong contender, and feel Alaska will choose PDX, again a no brainer to me (which is why it probably will apply to go elsewhere). I can see Southwest go to either Las Vegas, or to Austin or San Antonio Texas (OKC is within the perimeter, and I feel WN has a good shot at this slot).

    Just some speculation, none of which may prove to be accurate.

    • 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.

    • CF says:

      I can see JetBlue to San Juan as well. They’ve grown that market tremendously so that there are not only local passengers but also connections into the Caribbean to a few markets. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  5. Andrew says:

    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” installed in the future.

    I’m not aware that US has any plans to install sharklets or upgrade engine thrust, so they may have no choice but to throw another frequency to PHX/LAS.

    All the other carriers who fly DCA-West Coast (or will fly in the near future), AS/UA/AA, use (or will use) 737′s/757′s, which have the short field capability the airbus aircraft lack. And I don’t think US has any spare 757′s running around, unless they reduce Hawaii or Europe, which doesn’t seem likely…

    So just adding a cautionary note to all those who want to see SAN as US’s route choice here…

    • 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 says:

        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…

        • 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 real world performance. From what I understand, the IAE engines have a thrust boost feature that allows them to temporarily increase power for hot, high, etc. conditions (which, of course consumes extra fuel). “East” A319s have GE (CFM) engines, “West” aircraft have IAEs. If true, that could factor in also. What one reads on airline blogs may or may not be completely accurate, given the specifics of each situation. The companies and pilots know the real world performance of their aircraft. I’m no expert, but this is what I understand.

          • 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 says:

            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.

          • 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.

  6. 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 is just trying to hold a slot for furture use.

    I guess that is another question, sold slots be taken away from within the perimeter if there is not a real traffic need?

    • SEAN says:

      Politics as usual, plane & simple. LOL

    • 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 this pair, for what it’s worth.

  7. SEAN says:

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

    • SEAN says:

      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.

  8. 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 nonstop service to the bay area! I felt DL could go one of two ways and they ultimately chose to beef up their existing SLC run with a second daily instead of becoming the third entry into the LAX fray. One wild card – DL has codeshared the AS LAX flight in the past (I know, I’ve been on it) but everybody is talking about how AA and AS will codeshare each other’s LAX service. Wonder if that’s true and, if so, if DL can still codeshare the AS flight?

    That leaves our friends at US and, as others have pointed out, they are likely dealing with aircraft and other logistical issues. If I were them, I would wait until the “new entrant” beyond perimeter slots are allocated and then cherry pick the best remaining route. Other airlines are basically forced to fly from DCA to a hub or focus city. US, however, as a de facto hub at DCA, can fly to any destination and will hopefully use that to its advantage. One place US will not go is to PHX as they already have 3x daily service from DCA (thanks to Senator McCain dating from the old AWA days).

    The second topic involves the four “new entrant” beyond perimeter slots. Unlike the legacy slots, which are conversions of existing slots, these are new slots that must be applied for and will ultimately be selected by DOT. Unlike the legacy slots, these cannot be changed once granted. I am not sure about the timetable for all this (applications and selection) but expect to see the following applications (in my order of likelihood):

    - VX to SFO (duh, they’ve already announced it). Is it worth it to VX to open a station at DCA just for this one flight? Obviously they think it is, even though I suspect it will cost them money in the short run. You just can’t get in to DCA at any time so they won’t let this opportunity pass them by and then they will lobby hard to gain an LAX flight down the road.

    - AS to PDX as they have been trying to get PDX nonstops to most east coast business centers and DCA fits right in with that approach. From what I can ascertain, the SEA service does well but not well enough for a second daily.

    - B6 is a little tougher to speculate. While we’re glad to have them at DCA, this opportunity allows them to break out of the *yawn* Florida/BOS mold. They have pulled down much of their x-con flying in the past two years and, with fuel costs rising, I don’t see them chomping at the bit to start service from DCA to LGB (as it would compete with AA and AS to LAX and potentially cannibalize their LGB service from IAD) or OAK (as it would compete with UA and probably VX to SFO and again potentially cannibalize their service from IAD).

    I’m going out on a limb and saying AUS as it is the only mid-continent city that is beyond-perimeter and important to B6. In addition, AUS is not currently served nonstop from DCA and B6 could fly it with either aircraft. What else could they do? They could apply for SAN as they already have x-cons to BOS (1x) and JFK (2x) so DCA would fit right in if they decided they could make enough money on the route. My personal judgement might be clouding this but they should also apply for SJU. DCA has TERRIBLE nonstop access to the Caribbean (NAS and BDA only) and B6 has really loaded up at SJU, flying there from five Florida cities and four in the Northeast plus there are four connecting opportunities for DCA origin px beyond SJU.

    - WN/FL – OK, here’s where it really gets interesting! While I am STILL chomping at the bit for DCA to MDW, that doesn’t pertain to the beyond-perimeter application discussion. Neither does their rather significant reduction at IAD (down to just DEN and MDW). Frankly, they could apply for any of these and probably get at least one of them – AUS, SAT, SJC and SAN – would all provide new nonstop service from DCA. They already fly from BWI to nearly all of these destinations (all but SJC) so that probably won’t factor in to their DCA applications.

    - NK – should I really hazard a guess on what Spirit will do? Oh, what the hell, throwing caution to the wind, I’ll throw a dart at LAS but they could also apply for any pre-cleared Caribbean destination or SJU.

    - F9 – again, a near impossible guess, given FronMidPublic’s current route map and strategy issues. At least we know the “Mid” part is pretty much dead. They already have beyond-perimeter slots to DEN along with service to MKE, GRR, KCI and OMA and would likely not gain another DEN slot (the applications tend to favor new service). LOL, is CUN a pre-cleared destination?! They fly a 319 from GRR to DCA four times a week so anything’s possible. IMO they can apply for anything they want but aren’t going to get one of the four slots (VX, B6, WN, AS and even NK will present better applications).

    Finally, the third is the re-assignment of existing slots, which I don’t know very much about. I do not think that WN applying for OKC continuing to DAL is a beyond-perimeter slot but ICBW. At any rate, it makes sense to me regardless. Might as well let US continue the JAN service. Not sure which other slots may have come open due to airline consolidation because that can be arcane to track. Slots seem to follow through “pure” mergers but when the merger is an acquisition of “assets” they do not. That is how AS ended up with the LAX service. It was originally awarded to TWA but did not transfer to AA as American did not buy the airline, they bought certain assets. Guessing that is also gumming up the FronMidPublic works but, frankly, don’t care enough to follow it closely!

    If you made it this far, ask yourself why! Happy weekend to all and may all your flying be un-Cranky!

    • 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 currently using to fly DCA-JAN (which Delta relinquished). I think WN has a good shot to get this. If US wants to serve DCA-JAN it has plenty of slots it can free up, especially after the slot swap is consumated.

      • 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 enough slots to be relevant. For that reason, I would prefer to see B6 or WN get two slots instead of VX because one flight per day is really not much of a presence. I think you and I rate SJU highly but I have been shouted down in other forums that an airline will not get a slot application for SJU both due to political reasons (as it won’t have any congresspeople lobbying for it) and its status as a leisure destination (even though the DC area fares to SJU are always rather high and we have lost nearly half our existing service to SJU in the past few years).

        • 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 Rico.

          I’m not concerned about whether US “should” end up with DL’s divested slot or not. I’m simply pointing out why I think WN has an excellent chance with its OKC petition. It makes sense (not to mention WN’s status as a limited incumbent carrier). Come to think about it, we are dealing with the DOT here …

          • 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.

          • Thanks for the clarification.

        • 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 says:

      The Alaska DCA-SEA flight is already twice daily.

    • Sanjeev M says:

      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 run as WN already has BWI flights.

      • 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 with the exception of 2x to PNS. I omitted a few like Bangor and Islip but the new service is primarily concentrated among small southern cities (i.e., places you can generally only get to via CLT Concourse E or ATL Terminal C). Since DL already had a slot for JAN, I am guessing it was presumably approved at some point. Who knows? All I know is that my North Floridian parents seem a little too excited about the new TLH-DCA service!

    • CF says:

      Nice long post, Bill. Just a couple points.

      *Delta and American both codeshare on the same Alaska flights today, so I don’t know why this wouldn’t be possible today unless there’s some internal restriction at those carriers.

      *Regarding San Juan not happening because it’s a leisure destination, look what JetBlue is doing already. There are Florida flights in there with the current slots, so that shouldn’t be a barrier. The lobbying issue might hurt, however. I don’t know the inner workings, but I would assume that the decision-makers can be influenced.

      *On that Delta vacation Jackson slot, Southwest wants Oklahoma City (and then on to Dallas, which may be the big prize) while Frontier wants Louisville. US Airways might not allocate one of its other slots to go to Jackson if it loses out. That slot is a special slot required to serve smaller markets, so that’s one reason it’s dedicated to that market. I don’t know if US Airways would want to spend other slots that might have higher uses.

      *Sanjeev – As Bill said, Delta is already using its slot to go to Salt Lake, so they can’t do San Diego. My guess is Alaska would rather do Portland than San Diego. US Airways will use its slot to go somewhere – just not sure where. Or, there’s always the possibility that US Airways thinks it can get better use of a slot using it within the perimeter instead!

      • Rohit rao says:

        GDS restricts codeshares to the operating carrier and ONE marketing carrier for a single flight. Upto 11 additional carriers can be added as codeshares, but only if the ticket includes a connection onto another flight coded by the marketing carrier..

        Since I assume that neither AA nor DL will have many connections on this transcon, only 1 of them will be able to codeshare on this route pair…

        • CF says:

          I’m in Sabre right now and I can sell you a ticket from LA to Seattle on Alaska 477, American 6804, or Delta 7679. They’re all the same flight operated by Alaska. Not sure why LA-National would be any different.

          • Rohit rao says:

            Hmm, that’s weird… I haven’t had GDS since I moved to India (can’t find a reputable host agency here :(), but my experience in Amadeus was what I said earlier…

            Literature on the topic seems to support my experience as well. For example, 5.19 in this document: (ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/transport/reports/airlinecodeshare.pdf)

            Maybe it’s a recent change… *shrug*

      • Thanks Brett, hope I did you proud! Quick question re: US and JAN. Are you saying you think US would have JAN prioritized below cities like Jacksonville, NC and Fayetteville, NC in its DCA expansion plans via the DL slot swap if it doesn’t “win” the right to continue the JAN service with that existing slot pair that wasn’t part of the swap?

        • CF says:

          Quite possibly. Those are serious monopoly markets with what I assume to be decent military traffic. JAN, however, even has a nonstop from Southwest up the road in BWI. So it might not be as much of a gimme as it could be. Still, I don’t really know – haven’t seen the numbers. But something loses out for sure if US doesn’t keep the slot.

  9. Noah says:

    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?

    • CF says:

      We’ll hear from JetBlue by the deadline I’m sure. No reason to tip their hate in advance if they can avoid it. I do not think the A320s can make it to the west coast. They have trouble doing it in winter from airports with long runways. That short National runway has to cause problems.

  10. Gary says:

    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 counting.)

    Now for the “rest of the story:” The very first, non-stop transcontinental flight was indeed into DCA. On April 17, 1944, TWA owner Howard Hughes and President Jack Frye flew a new, fresh off the line Lockheed Constellation from Burbank to Washington National Airport: non stop 6 hours, 57 minutes. Painted in TW colors, it was actually a “delivery flight” to the Army Air Corps for war time troop movement service. All kinds of political and military dignataries were on hand for its arrival, including Air Corps Gen. Hap Arnold who reportedly blew a gasket when he saw the TWA paint job (the PG-rated version: “It’s not Howard’s plane! It’s mine!”). Needless to say, Hughes milked the ocassion for all it was worth with lots of local and some national publicity.

    • CF says:

      Close, but not quite Gary. American wanted to keep the TWA slots to continue National to LA as you say, but Alaska ultimately received the slots to start its first Seattle to National flight. That had nothing to do with McCain, though he was definitely instrumental in America West getting its first slot exemptions for National.

  11. Arcanum says:

    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.

  12. Michael says:

    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.

    • 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.

  13. 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 VX

    AUS has the highest yields of any unserved beyond perimeter destination so I think it’s a no-brainer for B6

    DL and AA have asked for SLC and LAX respectively

    This leaves US, NK?, WN, F9, and AS

    AS would most likely ask for PDX

    NK maybe LAS though yields aren’t great.

    F9, WN, US are the real wild cards.

    F9 in their new ULCC track seems to be cherry picking routes right now, so they could literally choose almost any destinations to switch over one of their myriad MKE flights. COS, TUS, or something off the beaten path like BOI.

    WN is strong in a lot of these markets but strongest in probably ABQ and SAT, so one of those two, or in SAN.

    US has their hub in DCA, so they can choose literally anything, SAN would be interesting but safe, something like SNA would be very very interesting.

    So we’re looking at the following

    US (regardless of choice), UA, AA, DL get 4 exemptions

    B6: AUS
    NK: LAS
    VX: SFO
    F9: COS or BOI
    AS: PDX
    WN: SAT or ABQ or even SAN

    Compete for four spots. Based on what was stated above, and the fact that SFO is only 1.3 times the size of TUS in O+D demand (albeit to DCA only), I’d say priority should be given in this order:

    WN: SAT
    B6: AUS
    WN: SAN
    WN: ABQ
    AS: PDX
    VX: SFO
    F9: COS
    NK: LAS
    F9: BOI

    With each carrier restricted to one exemption…

    • 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.

  14. Chris says:

    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?

    • CF says:

      That’s a lot of seats. United probably wants to start small and if the demand proves tremendous, it can always upgauge.

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

      • Arcanum says:

        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.

  15. Noah says:

    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.

  16. 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 says:

      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 says:

      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 about NK. Interesting…

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