The FAA is Reauthorized But The Only Interesting Bit is Where Those New DCA Slots Go

Government Regulation

After a few extensions and all sorts of wrangling, the Federal Aviation Administration is now reauthorized by Congress through September 2028. In the 1,068 page bill, there is… pretty much nothing of interest. That, however, won’t stop me from talking about it.

If you’re into research and studies, it’s time to get excited. The word “report” appears 600 times with “study” showing up 310 times and “research” making an appearance in 219 places. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is noted 38 times, because, well, they do a lot of studying, researching, and reporting over there.

Even though reports and studies aren’t really groundbreaking, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some fun nuggets in there.


Think of the worst possible location for an airport, and there you’ll find Banning. This place sits in the San Gorgonio pass, the only thing really separating the vast LA Basin from Palm Springs. If you’ve ever done the drive between LA and Palm Springs, you know this as the area filled with the Cabazon outlets and casino on the Morongo reservation along with those dinosaur statues that you first discovered in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. It sits right on top of the San Andreas fault, and it is incredibly windy… which explains all the windmills in the area.

The city of Banning owns the airport and desperately wants to shut it down and redevelop the property. It has been trying to do this since 2016, and now, eight years later, it is getting closer.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the 25 date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall initiate a study on the Banning Municipal Airport to identify—

  1. aviation traffic at the Airport in each of the 10 years preceding the study, and estimated future traffic each year in the 10 years following the study;
  2. associated annual revenues and costs in each year to service aviation traffic during the 8 years preceding the study, and to continue to service the airport for another 10 years;
  3. use of the facility for fighting wildfires and the degree of the utility of the facility to the local county fire department or other emergency first responders;
  4. status of the current infrastructure and planned improvements of the airport as of the date of the study, if any, and during the 5 years following the study and the associated costs of such improvements;
  5. perspectives of and impact on the Morongo Band of Indians resulting from operation of the airport near Tribal lands; and
  6. Federal funds that would be required to modernize the infrastructure of the airport to assure no annual operating financial losses for the 10 years following the study.

(b) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the results of the study.

I’m generally against closing airports — yes, I’m looking at you Santa Monica — but in this case, just let the city do it. This just drags on and on.


This one is not a study but rather a celebration. Today I learned that quasquicentennial means 125 years, and in 2028 we will reach the 125th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers. And you know what? We’re gonna party like it’s 1903, says Congress.

25 (a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:

  1. December 17, 2028, is the 125th anniversary of the first successful manned, free, controlled, and sustained flight by an aircraft.
  2. The first flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, is a defining moment in the history of the United States and the world.
  3. The Wright brothers’ achievement is a testament to their ingenuity, perseverance, and commitment to innovation, which has inspired generations of aviators and scientists alike.
  4. The advent of aviation and the air transportation industry has fundamentally transformed the United States and the world for the better.
  5. The 125th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight is worthy of recognition and celebration to honor their legacy and to inspire a new generation of Americans as aviation reaches an inflection point of innovation and change.

(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary, the Administrator, and the heads of other appropriate Federal agencies should facilitate and participate in local, national, and international observances and activities that commemorate and celebrate the 125th anniversary of powered flight

This is the kind of inane stuff that is peppered throughout the bill. It is completely irrelevant to the traveling public and the functioning of the FAA, but somebody really, really wanted this to happen. So there it is.

Is there anything truly notable in here? Meh, not really. You have the bill codifying the refund rules during schedule change/irregular operations, but we already talked about that. This would probably explain why nobody is really talking about anything in here with the exception of one area…


Despite the airport and local reps saying that it will only add to the congestion on Washington National’s (DCA) runways, Congress has decided to go the self-serving route and authorize five new roundtrips that can go beyond the airport’s arbitrary 1,250 mile perimeter rule.

It’s no secret that politicans love DCA, because it is very, very close to their offices. They need to go home a lot, and those people who live more than 1,250 miles didn’t have a nonstop option until a couple decades ago when the late Sen John McCain (R-AZ) brought home the first perimeter exemptions. Since that time, every western politician has wanted in, and here’s where it stands today.

Daily Departing Periemeter Exemptions from Washington/National Airport

Now, there will be five more slot pairs, one of which has to be divvied up between the “limited incumbents” which have fewer than 6 slot pairs at the airport. That means it’s Air Canada, Alaska, and Frontier in the running. Despite Vancouver and Calgary being interesting, I can’t imagine this will go to Air Canada. That doesn’t benefit any American politicians.

Alaska has already expressed an interest in serving San Diego, so this should be a shoe-in to win over whatever Frontier wants to do. That route was served previously by US Airways, but it was moved to LA after the merger with American. San Diego is one of the largest unserved markets from DCA.

That leaves four others to get split up between American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. In this game of musical chairs, only one will be left out.

American is also a lock since it has partnered with the San Antonio airport to apply for that service. Everybody knew San Antonio would get service in this round, so this just solidifies who will fly it.

Southwest just came out yesterday saying it wants Las Vegas. That’s a blow for those in Sacramento who were hoping for a flight, but Southwest did wisely say it would have that airplane continue on to Sacramento as a direct flight. Las Vegas does only have one daily on American right now, so this makes a great deal of sense. I imagine this will do just fine, even if it’s not exciting.

The best options for the rest of the bunch are, in my opinion:

  • Delta – Seattle to compete with Alaska
  • JetBlue – It should probably sit this one out
  • United – Either another San Francisco or an LA

My guess is that JetBlue is the odd man out, and the others all get one flight. I’m just not convinced that there is a clear market leader for any of them, so we’ll see which politician wins the battle.

The fact that we’re talking about this shows that there just isn’t much exciting in the FAA reauthorization. But at least it’s done and the continuing resolution shenanigans can stop.

The latest episode of The Air Show podcast is live, and I’m a little late to the party. I was on a mini-vacation last week, so you can tune in to hear Jon and Brian talk about Embraer.

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88 comments on “The FAA is Reauthorized But The Only Interesting Bit is Where Those New DCA Slots Go

  1. Completely random fact that is relevant but unimportant to today’s news (so on par with the report)…

    San Juan is in fact outside of the 1250 perimeter and is the only exemption route east of the Mississippi

  2. AK and UA shouldn’t get squat…. they were the two carriers who were against the addition of more perimeter exemptions. All AK’s current flights use perimeter exemptions and they want as little competition as possible on the routes out of DCA that they serve.

    UA didn’t want any new exemptions because it affects their IAD operation just to the west.

    B6 didn’t have anything to say on the new exemptions awhile back because they were in the middle of the court case against the NK acquisition. Slots like these only come along every once in a blue moon and the blue moon is here. Time for B6 to step up and start making some noise….

    1. DCA-LAX on a Mint equipped plane would be perfect for B6.

      There is however the POS issue which leads to LF and/or fares that aren’t as high as they should be (unless B6 goes for a AA/AS codeshare)

      1. Hayes when he was CEO would mention that route every time he came and did a station visit… B6 MINT is far superior to what AK/AA/DL currently offer on the route. The only challenge would be where B6 MX would store parts and tooling to support MINT ops… space is scarce…. LOL

        1. Count this resident as all in favor of a minty fresh DCA-LAX option.

          And for as many of the flights going to airlines not named American as possible. Was surprised to see SAT get in bed with them as WN would be a logical partner as well.

          1. Although there are already 4 flights to LAX, twice as many as any other outside the perimeter city (2x AA, AS, DL), so I’m thinking this is highly unlikely.

            1. Los Angeles is already (more than) twice as big as any other beyond perimeter city.

              Plus, 4 flights out of 20 today is 20%. 5 flights out of 25 would keep the same ratio.

          2. WN already flies DCA-AUS as their perimeter exemption and it makes little sense for them to use both of their exemptions on flights to airports 1h 20m away from one another.

        2. You can rotate Mint planes with other routes. For example you can have an A321 go JFK-LAX-DCA-LAX-JFK

          Did Robin really mention that route that frequently lol?

          1. “Gussied up domestic First” is still a superior product to most domestic First Class products. And reality is that domestic First is limited by economic and space constraints – it’s never going to be as good as intercontinental First.

            1. Yeah, in no way do I read “gussied up domestic first” as anything but a huge positive on a xcon flight!

    2. Regardless of opinions about which airlines ‘should’ get exemptions, the relevant criteria are set out in the law.

      The way the law is written basically guarantees Alaska would ask for SAN, and that they would get it (with the one slot pair designated for limited incumbents).

      United is more interesting, but I can guarantee that the DOT will not cut them out because they were opposed to the law – that’s a recipe to lose a lawsuit for a capricious decision.

      The reason UA is interesting is that if you take public statements and obvious choices (as cranky noted) you fill 4 of the 5 slots with AS-SAN, AA-SAT, WN-LAS, and DL-SEA.

      I’ll bet that UA would rather have SFO, but the law directs the DOT to prioritize a) new markets, or b) new competitors. And UA to SFO doesn’t meet that standard unless there are no other applicants.

      If B6 sits it out, maybe UA asks for SFO. If B6 applies, I can’t see them asking for anything other than LAX, and in that case then UA would ask for LAX as well and force the DOT to choose between them…

      1. Don’t need another SEA flight, it’s one of the few outside perimeter destinations that already has 2x daily.

        DL might be out in the cold on this round unless they ask for a second flight to SLC which probably makes sense for connectivity purposes. I’ve tried to fly to points west using SLC and I can never make it work in both directions.

        1. But the legal criteria are either serving a new destination or adding competition. Another DL flight to SLC serves neither purpose, and a flight to SEA does.

          If Delta wants another DCA-SLC flight, they can easily move their one mobile exemption back to SLC from LAX.

          And SLC is a nice benefit to Delta’s network, but Seattle is a more important destination. The idea that 3x to SEA is too much is weird. It’d also be nice if there were some actual competition on the route for Alaska.

          1. A second DL flight to SLC increases competition for connections to smaller cities, which is just as important (if not more important) than competition to SEA.

            1. Those aren’t the criteria written into the law regarding these slot exemptions.

              Besides, Delta clearly would rather add SEA than another SLC. Not only is SEA much more likely to win (the idea that increasing Delta’s monopoly on DCA-SLC would somehow increase competition is absurd), but SEA is their only hub beyond the perimeter without a flight.

          2. Delta would definitely be able to fill SEA to DCA. Alaska’s two flights are always full, 50% of the plane are MVP Golds, and they charge a heavy premium compared to their Dulles flight.

            1. I stand corrected. 3x to SEA it is. I’m still gonna say it’s the smallest city OTP with more than 2 flights but, hey, why not?

            2. If you look at Metropolitan GDP for cities outside the perimeter, LAX is #1 by a huge margin, followed by the Bay Area and then Seattle.

              Both SF and San Jose by themselves (as separate MSAs) are larger than Phoenix; Seattle is substantially larger than Phoenix as well.

              All that is to say, if you were going to use a proxy for which markets ‘deserve’ more flights, you’d take some away from Phoenix and add more to LAX, SFO, and SEA.

              SLC is the smallest, btw – smaller than either SAT or SAN.

            3. Delta also has some flights to Alaska itself as well as smaller PNW markets that will connect to a DCA-SEA flight. It does fill a real hole in their network in terms of one-stop.

    3. Aw, boo hoo on B6. The only thing they deserve is a miserable death. UA should get all four exemptions because they deserve them. Counter that, Noo Yawk Boy.

      1. The state of Alaska. :)

        Which, AFAIK, doesn’t have any nonstop flights from DCA, nor is it realistically in the running.

        For someone expressing a strong opinion about Alaska Airlines, one would think they would know they are AS.

        Is it really surprising that all of Alaska Airlines’ current DCA flights are beyond-perimeter? What hub of focus city would they fly to from DCA that is within the perimeter?

        1. Did they ever fly DCA – DAL when they first acquired VX? I know that whole idea of VX getting two gates and calling it a “focus city” was extremely absurd, and eventually AS got rid of it. Otherwise, everything AS would want to fly out of DCA is well outside the perimeter.

          1. Yes they did, I was on it a couple times. Dallas is within the perimeter so that issue never applied.

      2. AK is AirAsia. I would love to see them start service to DCA, but none of their hubs have US Preclearance, so without an FIS facility at the terminal its a non-starter I’m afraid.

  3. Okay whose with me… Honolulu… those Hawaii senators need to step up their game and get a Dreamliner in here… (yes I know this isn’t happening)

      1. Hawaiian would be the obvious choice, but their A321s don’t have the range and DCA can’t handle widebodies. Even if they bought XLRs, they’d have to be weight-restricted, although not too severely, but I can’t see they buying a sub-fleet for one route (or any Airbus products at all after the AS merger.)

        HNL-SAN-DCA would be a possibility: with AS virtually guaranteed to get the limited-incumbent slot they could just add the HNL segment, no additional approval required. AS can also offer connections at SAN for passengers on their flights from Kahului, Kailua-Kona, and Lihue.

      2. I think it would be cool too but nowhere near enough PDEW as evidence by the fact United can barely make IAD-HNL work and that’s from a connecting hub.

  4. I have the DCA exemption to end all exemptions; no single flight could provide more utility to DCA flyers:

    Aer Lingus to DUB on the 321neoLR

    Yes, Dublin has pre clearance (US customs).. Make it happen!

    1. Cranky mentioned Air Canada, but the law specifically says that these new beyond perimeter slots will serve domestic destinations.

      And nothing about these exemptions has anything to do with providing utility for DCA flyers – this is all about deals between Congressmembers.

      Adding exemptions (e.g. more flights) to a slot-controlled airport that is already dealing with congestion is a bad idea. But re-allocating existing slots is an inherently zero-sum game, and Congress doesn’t like zero-sum games. Beyond-perimeter members of Congress want more flights, within-perimeter members of Congress don’t want to lose any flights they have. So they just add more flights; they sell more tickets to the concert without actually increasing the seating capacity of the concert hall.

      1. I understand all of that. I live 10 minutes from DCA so I’m just having fun dreaming.

      2. UA and AC have a joint venture so it’s all moot anyway as they will both principally serve IAD as always.

  5. It’s not that one slot ‘has to be’ divvied up among limited incumbents – one must be, only one can be. No new entrant allowed.

    Frontier does not appear to be eligible. Republic has slots but is not a limited incumbent either. I believe only Alaska counts. Republic doesn’t operate under its own name. Frontier is only exemption slots. Alaska operates exemption slots, but Virgin America slots leased to Southwest make them eligible.

    Limited Incumbent for DCA is defined at 49 U.S. Code § 41714(h)(5).
    “(5)Limited incumbent air carrier.—The term “limited incumbent air carrier” has the meaning given that term in subpart S of part 93 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations; except that— …
    (B)for purposes of such sections, the term “slot” shall not include—
    (i)“slot exemptions”;
    (ii)slots operated by an air carrier under a fee-for-service arrangement for another air carrier, if the air carrier operating such slots does not sell flights in its own name, and is under common ownership with an air carrier that seeks to qualify as a limited incumbent and that sells flights in its own name; or
    (iii)slots held under a sale and license-back financing arrangement with another air carrier, where the slots are under the marketing control of the other air carrier; and
    (C)for [DCA], the Administrator shall not count, for the purposes of section 93.213(a)(5), slots currently held by an air carrier but leased out on a long-term basis by that carrier for use in foreign air transportation and renounced by the carrier…”

    Also 14 CFR § 93.213 “Limited incumbent carrier means an air carrier or commuter operator that holds or operates fewer than 12 air carrier or commuter slots, in any combination, at a particular airport, not including international slots, Essential Air Service Program slots, or slots between the hours of 2200 and 0659 at Washington National Airport or LaGuardia Airport. However, for the purposes of this paragraph (a)(5), the carrier is considered to hold the number of slots at that airport that the carrier has, since December 16, 1985:

    (i) Returned to the FAA;
    (ii) Had recalled by the FAA under § 93.227(a); or
    (iii) Transferred to another party other than by trade for one or more slots at the same airport.”

    Since int’l doesn’t count, AC doesn’t seem to be eligible? AA will get SAT *because Ted Cruz’s backing for the slots was contingent on San Antonio* and he’s ranking member of Commerce and Transport. AS will get SAN. WN will almost certainly get LAS. Delta will get a slot to SEA (probably) or SLC.

    United has been indifferent to DCA (they even have some leased out to DL) but could get a make-good as the primary opponent of these slots given their hub at IAD. UA/B6 lack an obvious win. LA has 4 flights, but not B6/UA. United has SFO. To be a SLAM DUNK, either would need to propose a flight to a non-hub.

    1. Interesting analysis, thank you. I just think DL should double up on SLC, something they’ve tried to do previously IIRC, as three flights to SEA seems overly duplicative.

      1. Also United only has one flight to DEN and could use a second for connectivity (as I mentioned with DL and SLC above); however Frontier’s THREE daily flights to Denver make that unlikely as well

    2. Allow me to revise. Spirit Airlines qualifies as a limited incumbent.

      Between ~ 2008 and 2012 Spirit served DCA-FLL and at one point also flew to Myrtle Beach.

      They are not currently at the airport, however they do not need to be since for the purposes of being considered a limited incumbent carrier an airline “is considered to hold the number of slots at that airport that the carrier has, since December 16, 1985:

      (i) Returned to the FAA;

      (ii) Had recalled by the FAA under § 93.227(a); or

      (iii) Transferred to another party other than by trade for one or more slots at the same airport.”

      The fact that they used to serve the airport makes them a limited incumbent! I had simply forgotten that they held slots there in the past.

    3. @CF and everyone seem to be missing the elephant in the room about AS and its big brother codeshare partner at DCA, which unfortunately means it can’t pursue the limited incumbent slots.

  6. SAT and SAN appear to be the clearest locks- I’d be curious if someone throws a curveball and requests to serve SMF? AS used to have Hawaii and Mexico flights from SMF and AA served Mexico from there as well so some precedent for non-hub flying. WN would be the obvious candidate although they appear uninterested? Maybe a city like BOI could make a compelling case as a new market. Improving competition is good but adding flights on existing routes seems like much less of a public benefit than the creation of new nonstop flights IMO

  7. DCA-SAN would join two of the most spectacular urban approaches in the lower 48, so that’s got the avgeek vote.

  8. I’ve heard SMF mentioned as a possibility (assuming somebody wants to fly it, AA possibly, maybe WN).

    Why not SNA? Haven’t heard that mentioned yet. I know several people who connect thru DFW to get there.

    Even OAK would be a new entrance although that would have to be WN or bust.

    1. Addendum – I read elsewhere that the WN application for LAS states that the same plane will continue to SMF so not sure if that’s part of the calculus.

  9. Cranky, does your awesome Cirium data tell you how those three F9 flights are doing? That’s a lot of coverage for a ULCC (well, less-U but still LCC-ish).

    And a bigger point: at one point B6 reported that 90% of their bookings were just nonstops (not connecting), how does that compare to other airlines, how does that vary by hub? You could fill a number of blogs and entertain a bunch of avgeeks by walking through all that data.

    1. emac – Those slots come from a different era when Frontier wasn’t running the same model, but they have to be pretty lucrative under any model.
      Looking at FY 2023, Frontier operated 291 different routes in the US.
      Stage length-adjusted PRASM put DCA-DEN at 19th highest. (The top 3, by the way, all San Juan from Philly, Hartford, and Jacksonville.)

      1. Fascinating, thanks for doing this. Top 10% when they have that much capacity (for them) on the route is very impressive. As is SJU.

        This is good stuff, would love more!

  10. Some of the slots are free to move – I believe AA’s two LAX, DL’s LAX and UA’s SFO. UA may want to add another DEN slot but since it’s more crowded, it may apply for a second SFO and easily move the free slot to DEN.

  11. UA will be interesting no doubt. Does a second DEN count as improving competition against F9 3x daily? Another 234 seats using one of these slots is more benefit total seats than any other potential application unless. Assuming DL gets SEA.

    Does a 4th airline on LAX count as competition?

  12. Okay, so if we presume AS is a lock for SAN with the “limited incumbent” slot (I guess F9 could bid for something, but I don’t see a stronger case), that leaves 4 slots.

    Apparently, new entrants are not allowed, which doesn’t make a lot of sense from a competition standpoint, but I can’t see Avelo, Breeze, or Allegiant being interested. Spirit could, I guess, but it would mean a new station with one flight a day (and no new in-perimeter slots on the horizon either) and a legal challenge to allow new participants that they could lose. so let’s presume they’re out too.

    SAT is likely a done deal, the only possibility I can see is WN challenging AA for SAT, but it looks like AA has lined up local political support so this is likely done, unless the Texas congressional delegation could be convinced to back another airline.

    I’m not entirely clear on why LAS would need another flight, unless the idea is to increase competition or facilitate connections to smaller cities. WN has also sweetened the deal with the promise of direct service to SMF. Unless the Feds just reject the idea of LAS needing a second service outright, WN has this one locked up.

    So that only leaves two slots. The next-largest market is SMF, but with the direct-service promise Southwest has already signaled they have no interest in a non-stop to DCA, and SMF is pretty much just a small spoke for everyone else. If JetBlue wasn’t already in retreat from SMF, they could throw a bid in here, but B6’s SMF-JFK service is ending in October and BOS is only seasonal. (I predict BOS will be axed at some point and JetBlue will serve the Tahoe recreation market with BOS-RNO instead.)

    Brett’s best-option case is for DL to SEA to compete with AS and UA to add another service to SFO or LAX. These are both good from the competition perspective, but if you want to also add competition for connections to smaller West Coast cities DL to SLC would probably be the stronger case. Either way, unless DL just isn’t interested, I think it gets one.

    As for UA, I’m not sure it’s that interested in DCA. It could plunk down another SFO or LAX, both have decent cases: they’d be a new player for LAX, but LAX already has 4x/day to SFO’s two. I’d like to see JetBlue bid for SFO with Mint, I think it has more potential than the second daily with Mint on JFK-PHX.

    One final outlier, depending on the politics of the California delegation, is a second airport in the SF Bay or LA markets. They’re both big areas with famously bad traffic, so I could see SJC or SNA coming into play if an airline wants to put in a bid (and, for SNA, has a slot to use.) With LAX already having four flights to SF’s two, and federal involvement with Silicon Valley, I’d say SJC has the better change, with either WN or AS being the most probable (least improbable?) choices.

    1. Just some additional information here that I’ve learned. Apparently, this whole process has been carefully constructed to specifically benefit the haves while further excluding the have-nots. Since Frontier has no inside-perimeter slots, it isn’t counted as an incumbent, so it is not eligible for anything. It sounds like Air Canada isn’t eligible since these are for domestic. So that means Alaska is the only eligible airline for the limited incumbent slots. This is more ridiculous because the only reason Alaska is eligible is because it owns those old Virgin America slots which it doesn’t even use. It just leases them out. How did this happen?
      Thank hometown Sen- Maria Cantwell who just happens to chair the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Ridiculous.

      There are five airlines competing for the other 4 slots, but no airline can get more than one. I can’t imagine a world where American won’t get its San Antonio flight and Southwest won’t get its Vegas flight. That means that you have Delta/JetBlue/United competing for the other 2 slots. SNA doesn’t make sense for any of those airlines (American would have been the likely one to try that). SJC would only make sense if JetBlue felt like losing more money.

      1. Ah, I didn’t know airlines could only receive one of the four non-limited-incumbent slots. This bill is a masterpiece at manipulation of the “competition” for slots that’s supposed to theoretically result.

        Do you know whether or not a receiving airport can get both of the presumed-remaining two slots? Right now, SFO has 2 flights from two airlines, while LAX has four flights on three airlines. Could SFO get both of the remaining two?

        If so, one possibility could be for UA to get a second SFO slot (offering a second timing option both for SF itself and and west coast connections) and JetBlue to get one SFO slot as well to increase competition on the city-pair to three airlines.

        (I think JetBlue has to bid for something, opportunities like this don’t come along that often.)

      2. Does AS lease VX slots or perimeter exemptions? If the latter, what service is provided by the airlines utilizing those exemptions?

          1. Ah, gotcha, thanks so much! That helps explain the ridiculously overcrowded terminal 1. Makes sense for Frontier to be there but what did poor Air Canada do to deserve their banishment from the “real” DCA?

      3. Cranky if AS wants to seek out the limited incumbent slot pair it’s going to have to say bye bye to its AA partnership first. Something the hometown Senator may have overlooked……

    2. I’m not sure what it means when you say UA isn’t “interested” in DCA. They’re acutely interested in it, since they have their hub up the road at IAD. But otherwise it’s a slot controlled airport with the perimeter restriction. It is what it is.

      United will certainly apply for an exemption, however, if for no other reason than to try to keep it out of the hands of a competitor.

      The way Congress set up the rules, any airline willing to bid for a new airport would likely win the award, but as Cranky notes, I can’t see anyone bidding for SNA or SJC or SMF or OAK, particularly given that AA and WN have already announced their intent to bid for SAT and LAS, respectively.

      I bet DL will apply for SEA, and United will try to wait out JetBlue as long as they can – if JetBlue takes a pass, then United could make a case for another SFO without the DOT having any other alternative.

      I can’t see JetBlue bidding for anything except LAX or SFO, really. As it is, all of their flying out of DCA is Florida/Caribbean and Boston. That’s it. Given their circumstances, are they willing to operate one of those routes that’s not from their most important markets?

      Anyway, whatever B6 could ask for would impact United’s choice, and vice versa.

  13. What could be really interesting is if United ran a second SFO-DCA flight as a redeye. That would increase choice on that route—the existing UA and AS nonstops both leave SFO in the morning and arrive DCA in the afternoon, and make the return trip at around 5/6pm. An eastbound redeye would save a day and UA could even time the westbound to arrive in time for some of the late-morning Asia departures.

    1. SFO is by far the city that most needs a third DCA flight. Sorry SeaTac and Delta lovers but it’s true.

      1. I agree. But, SFO already has two airlines that serve that route and SEA only has one airline. I don’t see AA having any interest on being the third airline to fly DCA – SFO. That’s probably why SEA has a better chance.

  14. The absence of pilot retirement age regulations by the FAA is striking. Although the Regional Airline Association (RAA) sought to raise the retirement age, there are alternative avenues for enhancing pilot efficiency that enjoy broader consensus.

    Allowing for career portability transfers between airlines could mitigate the significant productivity drain caused by 31% of airline pilots commuting lengthy distances. This change could potentially boost airlines’ productivity by up to 7%. Despite resistance to the concept of pilot career portability, the focus should shift towards safety-conscious methods of augmenting pilot productivity.

    Let’s crunch the numbers. Consider a pilot spending 35 years commuting for 11 months a year, 6 days a month, amounting to 2310 days or roughly 6.33 years of commuting, which represents 18% of a 35-year career. Even if the retirement age were extended to 67, it would only add 2 unproductive years or 5.7%.

    Furthermore, given that pilots are typically limited to working 20 days a month, a pilot with a 35-year career can only work 8,400 days. Therefore, an additional 2310 days translates to a 27.5% increase in career productivity during the most productive phases. Even with a conservative estimate assuming only half of eligible pilots opt for airline changes, this could still yield a 13.75% productivity surge. I assume the actual productivity gain would only be 7%, which is still superior to 5.7%.

    Over the past decade, stakeholders have foregone potential productivity enhancements by fixating on the Age 67 retirement age proposal. Bloggers are hesitant to write about the RAA’s recent political setback. Perhaps it’s time to redirect attention towards avenues offering greater shared gains across the industry. Pilot career portability would be a huge win for RAA member airports and airlines.

  15. Cranky, You could have a lifetime of posts writing about Ronald Raegan Washington National Airport, as most Republicans call it, or Washington-National Airport, as most Democrats like to call it.

    Partly built in the District of Columbia (eastern part) and now considered in the Crystal City part of Arlington County, Virginia, whose main runway is often considered the busiest in the nation, and whose runway numbers were changed in 1999 because of the Earth’s magnetic field drift, oh dear, DCA!

    I lived in DC for a while, moved up the river to the Rosslyn section of Arlington Count, and loved watching planes skim the top (almost) of the old then called USA Today Building. And I worked for the General Accounting Office (GAO) my entire working life.

    When I lived in DC, I had, like the 689,545 citizens of DC today (2020 census) have no congressional (House and Senate) members to have a vote on anything National. When I moved to Virginia, suddenly I had a say in the House and Senate, but of course, the needs of Arizona, Alaska, and every other State seemed overwhelming.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the local folks in DC had a say in the House and Senate about dear old National. Oh, I forgot those 689,545 have no voting representatives in Congress…the Constitution, I forgot, maybe it’ll get amended by, say, 4049?

    In the meantime, let the airlines jam all and whatever they want into that runway. Let, the delays run not into minutes, or hours, but into days. Take a dozen tower controllers from very other of this country’s airports and station them all at and for National!

    And, I’m sure with all that’s going on in the world, the Comptroller General has the time and staff to do a Banning study….

    What a mess!

    1. Most airport runways get renumbered periodically as the magentic pole shifts. That is most airports except those in Canada. There the runway numbers aren’t based on magnetic north, they’re based on true north. (Canada got tired of repainting.)

  16. Given that JetBlue applied for EAS to Presque Isle, I expect they will absolutely try for DCA-LAX even if it does not make financial or strategic sense!

  17. I’ve notice lately that American is pricing connections through DCA substantially higher than its other hubs. Makes sense given their sunbelt strategy (added capacity at CLT, DFW, MIA, etc.) and the non-stop premiums they can get on O/D traffic out of DCA… don’t want connecting traffic taking those seats when they could’ve routed it through CLT instead.

    I’m actually surprised no one did this sooner… I’m looking at you, Ghost of US Airways… and Zombie of JetBlue. I go up and down the east coast a lot and it seems like a new post-pandemic thing that AA’s DCA connections are typically substantially more expensive than CLT (or even down to MIA and back up). Maybe I’m selectively remembering, but I don’t think it used to be that way.

    Unrelated, but PHL is hardly ever an option offered anymore if I’m not going to Europe.

  18. If the airlines wanted to make some really good money they could apply for a slot to an out of perimeter US per-Clearance airport like Aruba or Dublin.

    1. Unfortunately the slots are designated domestic-only regardless of pre-clearance. Which disappoints me, DCA-DUB would be a great flight for connecting to smaller European (and particularly English) cities.

      Really disappointing.

  19. Wouldn’t it be much easier for everyone (other than UA) if they just scrapped the DCA perimeter altogether?

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Cranky Flier