Alaska Airlines has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for slots to operate two new U.S. transcontinental services from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the closest airport to Washington D.C.
The airline’s bid, one of at least seven expected for the DOT awards of four slot-pairs for longer-haul flights at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA), would provide non-stop service from DCA to Portland in Oregon and San Diego.
According to Alaska Airlines, Portland and San Diego are the two U.S. cities with the largest passenger demand that don’t already have flights to National. If granted, Alaska would offer one daily round-trip flight to each city.
The DOT is expected to make a decision concerning disposition of the four slot pairs in May. Alaska Airlines says that if it is awarded the slots for Portland and San Diego, it could begin operating the routes as soon as late August.
“Providing residents of the greater Portland area with convenient non-stop service to the nation’s capital is the priority for Alaska Airlines in applying for more DCA service, and we’re thrilled this day has finally come,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group’s president and chief executive officer-elect. “Alaska is also eager to add nonstop service to San Diego – the largest market in the country without non-stop service to Reagan National.”
Washington Reagan National is one of four domestic U.S. airports that requires an act of Congress to add flights. To be considered for four round-trip flights longer than 1,250 miles that Congress authorized last month, airlines are required to submit their application to the DOT by March 12.
Alaska Airlines applied for two of the four round-trip flights. Other carriers expected to apply for the long-distance slot-pairs are Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and Virgin America. Other airlines eligible to apply include carriers such as Air Canada, Hawaiian Airlines and WestJet.
No other carrier currently provides nonstop service to Reagan National from Portland or San Diego. According to Alaska Airlines, non-stop service from Oregon to the greater Washington, D.C., area is limited to a single daily flight into Dulles International Airport, located in Virginia more than 25 miles from downtown D.C.
In support of its application for Reagan National flights, Alaska Airlines has launched an online campaign urging residents of the greater Portland and San Diego areas to support its efforts by sending a letter to the DOT during the public comment period, which ends on March 27. Customers can learn more at www.alaskaair.com/flyDCA.
With more than three decades of service to Portland, which is known as “the Rose City”, Alaska Airlines and sister regional carrier Horizon Air operate more than 640 flights a week from their Portland hub – more than any other carrier.
Alaska Airlines currently operates three daily non-stop flights to Reagan National: two from Seattle and one from Los Angeles.