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American Eyes New Service From Washington-DCA

The carrier is pursuing a new route beyond the 1,250-mile perimeter rule.

An American Airlines aircraft at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA). (Photo: Shutterstock)

American is looking to add a new route from Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA) after Congress approved an FAA reauthorization bill that includes additional slots outside of the perimeter. The carrier will pursue flights to San Antonio, according to a press release from the Central Texas airport on Wednesday.

The Fort Worth-based airline has long maintained a hub at DCA after the 2013 merger with US Airways. However, the majority of the carrier’s flights are within the 1,250-mile perimeter with a handful of exceptions, including Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. In total, 40 daily flights are exempt from the federally mandated rule.

As part of the FAA reauthorization bill, DCA is set to receive five more roundtrip slots that are outside of the perimeter. The bill – which was approved by Congress on Wednesday – now heads to the Oval Office for President Biden’s sign-off.

If Biden approves, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will have 60 days to allocate the slots. The last time ‘beyond perimeter’ slots were awarded was in 2012.

New Route to San Antonio

There are currently no nonstop flights between DCA and San Antonio, although United does serve the city from its Washington Dulles hub and Southwest from Baltimore. The City of San Antonio says DCA is one of its largest underserved markets.

“With Congress increasing the number of long-distance flights at DCA, American is thrilled to announce its intent to apply to serve San Antonio International Airport (SAT) from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA),” said American’s Executive Vice President of Corporate Real Estate and Chief Government Affairs Officer Nate Gatten in a press release. “San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and is the largest unserved market in Texas from DCA.”

Dubbed ‘Military City USA,’ San Antonio has a substantial military presence. Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) is one of the largest single Department of Defense installations, employing nearly 80,000 people.

“We’re grateful to Senator Cruz, the San Antonio International Airport, and the city of San Antonio for their partnership to connect Military City USA to our nation’s capital on American Airlines,” Gatten continued.

The proposed route will depend on how the new slots are awarded. Despite DCA being a hub for American, the airport’s press release says that San Antonio will be the carrier’s only application.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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