LaHood added that the flights would not just benefit people flying to the new destinations. “The flights will increase competition for airlines serving Washington, which can lead to lower fares for consumers,” he said.
The "slots," or authorization to operate flights, at Reagan airport and New York's LaGuardia Airport are regulated by the federal government, and they cannot be traded between airlines, unlike many other airports. The issue became one of many hold-ups in a fight over funding for the FAA that stretched from 2007 until 2012.
The resulting legislation that broke the impasse included a provision to allow large airlines that already fly into Reagan airport to trade one long-distance flight with another carrier for a shorter one.
As a result, DOT said Monday, American Airlines is trading a round-trip flight from Washington to Dallas for a flight to Los Angeles, Delta Airlines will trade a flight to LaGuardia for a round-trip flight to Salt Lake City, United Airlines will trade a flight to Chicago for a flight to San Francisco and US Airways will trade a flight to Dallas for a trip to San Diego.
Lawmakers in the affected West Coast cities praised the move for allowing their constituents to fly to the nation's capital, although many airlines already provided flights into other airports in the region like Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall.
“Southwest Washington and Greater Portland residents will now have direct access to their nation’s capital,” Sen. Maria CantwellMaria CantwellSenators want more security funding for Jewish centers Senate passes bill ending Obama-era land rule Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump's revised travel order MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement.
“This direct flight will support business growth and jobs in Southwest Washington and Oregon, and it will make the Pacific Northwest more accessible and attractive to East Coast businesses and tourists," she continued. "That's one reason I fought hard in the FAA bill to increase Western flights to Washington, D.C. and urged DOT to strongly consider Alaska Airlines’ bid to provide the first nonstop service from Portland.”
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