A rare opportunity to compete for two slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., has most of the U.S. airline industry licking its proverbial chops in anticipation.
And Alaska Airlines is planning to join the fray when one pair of the airport’s "outside-the-perimeter" slots — one of only six such pairs at the airport that allow for non-stop flights of more than 1,250 miles — comes open with the demise of TWA.
Alaska's application would propose daily non-stop service between Seattle and the nation's capital using 120-seat B737-700 aircraft. Currently, United offers the only nonstop service from Seattle to the D.C. area, operating three daily roundtrips to the less-popular Dulles International Airport, 45 minutes outside of downtown D.C. in Northern Virginia.
Control Tower in Washington D.C.
Many other applications are expected from carriers vying for the hard-to-get outside-the-perimeter slots.
But nothing will happen until TWA ceases operations. TWA currently controls the slots in question. If the proposed acquisition of TWA by American Airlines goes through, the slots --- which are not transferable --- will be "returned" to the U.S. Department of Transportation. DOT will solicit applications and then award the slots. The whole process could take several months.
"DOT will build a number of considerations into its thinking, such as customer convenience and enhancement of the competitive landscape," said Gregg Saretsky, Alaska's senior vice president of marketing and planning. "It will be a highly competitive process, with each airline fiercely promoting its case."
Saretsky said the DCA opportunity is enticing for Alaska for several reasons. "There currently is no non-stop service between SEA-DCA, and the market --- driven mostly by business travelers --- is sizeable. And while this route would represent a departure from our north-south network, it builds upon our strength at our largest hub, Seattle."
He noted that loads would be bolstered by connecting traffic from elsewhere in the Alaska and Horizon system --- a fact that will help Alaska’s application, because it offers single-stop service to DCA from small- and medium-sized communities. Improved access to the nation’s capital from smaller communities is something DOT will factor into its decision making.
Sartesky added that because Alaska codeshare partners American and Northwest offer one-stop and connecting service to D.C., "our proposal, in combination with their existing service, offers customers better time-of-day coverage than could be provided by just a single daily nonstop."
Saretsky said that with ASM growth of 10 percent this year, Alaska has plenty of capacity to take advantage of this rare opportunity while still strengthening core markets.
EIPremier From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1540 posts, RR: 1 Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1312 times:
This may seem like a bit of a stretch for Alaska, especially given the failure of their past attempts at West-East flights (excluding ANC-ORD, which they codeshare with AA). However, I think the Alaskasworld shows that there is potential here. I don't think they would have any trouble filling up 120 seats daily on this route.
I understand that Jet America discontinued their flights to DCA before their 1987 merger with AS. It's too bad, because if they hadn't Alaska might still have two dormant slots there, although they would be for flights under 1,250 miles.
Continuing on the Jet America theme, I've heard that Alaska is also considering starting flights to LGB again. Considering how congested LAX is, I think that would be a wise move. LGB is a beautiful airport, and it's a shame that more carriers don't fly from there.
NWA Man From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1828 posts, RR: 13 Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 1291 times:
NW went for this last year when slots were opened up at DCA, looking to do two daily A319 flights from DCA to SEA. Their efforts were shot down by the DOT in favor of (among others) McCain's favorite, HP, and TWA to LAX.
One of the weirder points in the debate occured when United, fighting for DCA-SFO slots (which they didn't get BTW) stated that NW shouldn't get the slots because they proposed to use a European-made aircraft in the A319 instead of the 757, the aircraft of choice for airlines applying for the slots.
Good luck to AS...I sure hope they get these slots. This is definitely one of the most underserved markets in America.