Southwest Airlines has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for slots that would allow Southwest to offer the first-ever non-stop service between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The application also includes a proposal by Southwest Airlines to provide one-stop, same-plane service between Washington National and San Diego via Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (which has the IATA code AUS).
Southwest’s proposed service is possible due to recent federal legislation that authorized new flights to cities beyond Washington National’s traditional 1,250-mile service perimeter.
“Southwest Airlines is committed to offering customers low fares, new service options, and increased competition which is demonstrated with this proposed first-ever non-stop service between our home state’s capital and our nation’s capital – a route we would take great pride in offering our customers,” says Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman, president, and CEO.
According to Southwest Airlines, current fares for connecting service between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Washington National are more than 50 per cent higher than Southwest’s average fare for the same distance. Southwest says this will enable it to offer sharply lower prices to consumers on the currently un-served, beyond-perimeter, non-stop route between Washington Reagan National Airport and Austin.
Alaska Airlines, which is also bidding for some of the four pairs of slots which the DOT is to award for beyond-perimeter service by lesser incumbents at DCA or U.S. and Canadian carriers which don’t now serve the airport, has applied for slots to serve San Diego from DCA on a non-stop basis. Alaska Airlines also proposes to serve Portland, Oregon non-stop from DCA.
Southwest says its non-stop DCA-Austin service would, if approved by the DOT, also connect Washington National customers with other Southwest destinations such as Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby, with connecting service into Washington, D.C. via Austin.
The airline plans to operate its proposed daily Washington, D.C.-Austin-San Diego service with Boeing 737-800s configured to seat 175 passengers.
A decision by the DOT is expected in May. Southwest says it is prepared to begin service this summer if awarded the slots.