DOT Rules on Reagan Beyond Perimeter Slots

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America have all been awarded slots to introduce new non-stop flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to cities that had previously not be eligible for direct access due to their distance from the capital.  Three of these airlines already have a limited presence at the airport, but Virgin America has not previously served Reagan National.

The new allocations will permit Alaska Airlines to operate a daily flight to Portland, Oregon; JetBlue Airways to offer an international link to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Southwest Airlines to fly to Austin, Texas; and for Virgin America to introduce services to the Californian city of San Francisco.

 “These new flights will provide convenient nonstop service to our nation’s capital for travelers from four major cities,” said US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood.  “The flights will increase competition for airlines serving Washington, which can lead to lower fares for consumers.”  According to the Department, the proposals from the four carriers selected merit award under the statute.

The new services were made available by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernisation and Reform Act of 2012, which was signed by President Obama in February.  The law created eight daily slot exemptions at Reagan National for airlines with little or no service at the airport to serve cities farther than 1,250 miles from Washington.  Airlines cannot currently fly between Reagan National and cities beyond this limit unless Congress passes a law to authorise it. 

Since Congress first created slot exemptions at Reagan National in 2000, the Department has been authorized to award 40 exemptions for beyond-perimeter flights, which have permitted 20 new round-trip operations.  The latest amendment has already enabled four existing operators at Reagan National to exchange a total of eight slots for flights within the perimeter for an equal number of slot exemptions to permit nonstop flights beyond the perimeter. 

As a result, American Airlines will trade one round-trip flight to Dallas-Fort Worth for a flight to Los Angeles; Delta Air Lines will trade one round-trip flight to New York LaGuardia Airport for a flight to Salt Lake City; United Airlines will trade one round-trip flight to Chicago O’Hare for a flight to San Francisco, and US Airways will trade one round-trip flight to Dallas-Fort Worth for a flight to San Diego.

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