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Washington IAD Vs DCA For Domestic Demand  
User currently offlineknope2001 From United States of America, joined May 2005, 2947 posts, RR: 30
Posted (7 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7176 times:

In a number of recent threads there have been comments about demand at Dulles, lack of demand at Dulles, the importance of access to National, etc. So I did a little number crunching with Q3 2013 local O+D.

Here are markets with combined IAD+DCA local traffic of 200 or more per day (both ways combined).

First are markets "within perimeter" where anyone with a slot can fly nonstop to DCA without restriction. For example, of the 261 people per day on average who traveled between Manchester and Washington DC (DCA or IAD) 97.3% flew in or out of DCA.

% DCA … pax/day (DCA+IAD)
97.3% ……. 261 ….. MHT
92.5% ……. 614 ….. MKE
91.2% ……. 215 ….. MEM
88.7% ……. 452 ….. PVD
87.5% ……. 420 ….. BDL
87.5% ……. 346 ….. PWM
87.1% ….. 1206 ….. LGA
86.9% ……. 326 ….. MSN
86.7% ……. 537 ….. MSY
86.7% ……. 381 ….. PBI
86.5% ……. 311 ….. RSW
86.4% ….. 1233 ….. FLL
85.5% ……. 255 ….. CVG
84.8% ……. 259 ….. HOU
84.2% ……. 233 ….. HSV
84.0% ……. 240 ….. DAY
83.4% ……. 318 ….. BHM
83.4% ……. 314 ….. BTV
82.9% ……. 491 ….. JAX
82.8% ……. 289 ….. BUF
82.2% ……. 257 ….. ALB
82.1% ……. 249 ….. DSM
81.3% ……. 254 ….. LIT
81.1% ……. 453 ….. OMA
80.8% ……. 643 ….. STL
80.1% ……. 361 ….. CHS
79.9% ….. 2954 ….. ORD
79.8% ….. 2441 ….. MCO
79.7% ……. 221 ….. SYR
79.6% ……. 270 ….. SDF
79.3% ….. 1173 ….. MIA
78.5% ……. 343 ….. RDU
78.2% ……. 532 ….. IND
77.5% ….. 3731 ….. BOS
76.1% ……. 339 ….. CMH
75.7% ……. 640 ….. DTW
74.7% ….. 1051 ….. MSP
72.6% ….. 2016 ….. ATL
71.6% ……. 366 ….. BNA
71.5% ….. 1333 ….. TPA
71.4% ……. 219 ….. CLE
70.7% ……. 747 ….. MCI
70.1% ……. 753 ….. IAH
69.1% ……. 480 ….. CLT
65.3% ….. 1455 ….. DFW
51.0% ……. 656 ….. JFK
6.8% ……. 528 ….. MDW

If passengers used IAD and DCA equally in these markets the % would be 50. Midway is the only airport with more IAD passengers than DCA, and that will change by fall. JFK is close to 50%, and DFW is about 2/3 DCA and 1/3 IAD, but that's still DCA being about twice IAD. Every other market is more than double demand to DCA than IAD, with many markets seeing DCA demand dwarf IAD demand.

If we look at markets outside the normal perimeter, these are cities where nonstop are only allowed to IAD except for a small number of "exemption" slot awards.

% DCA … pax/day (DCA+IAD only)
66.6% ……. 215 ….. SNA
65.5% ……. 503 ….. SLC
63.3% ……. 463 ….. AUS
61.7% ……. 508 ….. PHX
59.9% ……. 658 ….. PDX
59.2% ……. 339 ….. SAT
57.6% ……. 643 ….. LAS
52.8% ……. 850 ….. SAN
52.8% ….. 1775 ….. DEN
52.6% ….. 1231 ….. SEA
46.6% ……. 269 ….. ABQ
37.0% ……. 299 ….. SMF
33.3% ……. 367 ….. OAK
28.6% ….. 2811 ….. LAX
25.5% ….. 2695 ….. SFO
15.3% ……. 216 ….. LGB

Finally here are all of the IAD markets with at least 200 total daily passengers (both ways combined) specifically at Dulles....there are only 20 of them. With a few exceptions like LAX and SFO, these markets are not large because IAD is such a draw but because the total market is so large....493 locals between IAD and MCO is the #9 market out of Dulles, but that is still only about 20% of the total WAS-MCO market.

% DCA … pax/day (IAD only)
25.5% ….. 2009 ….. SFO
28.6% ….. 2007 ….. LAX
77.5% ……. 840 ….. BOS
52.8% ……. 838 ….. DEN
79.9% ……. 594 ….. ORD
52.6% ……. 584 ….. SEA
72.6% ……. 553 ….. ATL
65.3% ……. 505 ….. DFW
79.8% ……. 493 ….. MCO
6.8% ..……. 492 ….. MDW
52.8% ……. 401 ….. SAN
71.5% ……. 380 ….. TPA
51.0% ……. 322 ….. JFK
57.6% ……. 273 ….. LAS
74.7% ……. 265 ….. MSP
59.9% ……. 264 ….. PDX
33.3% ……. 245 ….. OAK
79.3% ……. 243 ….. MIA
70.1% ……. 225 ….. IAH
70.7% ……. 219 ….. MCI



For whatever reason, even with all the booming business and residential development to the west Dulles doesn't get the love. For years when discussions like these have come up people have touted growth in the region as on the cusp of changing this, but it has yet to really show up in the O+D numbers much. DCA is still the place to be if at all possible.

66 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5620 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (7 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 6986 times:

The money in the DC area is in either DC itself or the parts of NoVa that are much closer to DCA than IAD.

User currently offlineIndianicWorld From Australia, joined Jun 2001, 2991 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6937 times:

Until the silver line is built, IAD will also be at a disadvantage.

I know when I used IAD last year, the time taken to get from the airport to DC was definately less than efficient. The train will definately assist make that journey much better.


User currently offlinejetblue1965 From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 1797 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6711 times:

Quoting knope2001 (Thread starter):

These are %pax who began or ended their journey at DCA, but still could've done a connection to reach their destination ?


User currently offlinejfidler From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 368 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6650 times:

Great analysis. Often in the DCA vs IAD debate, we just see rhetoric about why one is better than the other, etc. You actually used the real data in your analysis. I find it startling how much more market share DCA has over IAD on so many routes. I knew DCA was strong, but I didn't realize it was that strong.

If I remember correctly, back 10-15 years ago, IAD was far ahead of DCA in overall passenger numbers. That balance changed a few years ago.


User currently offlinecommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11752 posts, RR: 62
Reply 5, posted (7 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6620 times:

I agree with others these numbers are interesting and illuminating. Thanks.

It would be interesting, if possible, to see these same numbers, but with BWI overlaid as well to get a true comparison of the region's three airports. My guess is that owing to the presence of the Southwest hub, BWI likely also attracts far more domestic O&D than IAD does, and maybe even more than DCA does, with, like DCA, the only markets where BWI is smaller than IAD being the transcons. Now, I'm sure that in head-to-head markets, even where BWI does attract more O&D than DCA, DCA is still probably the yield leader most of the time.

Overall, though, I think these numbers just further reinforce the structural challenge IAD has. IAD caters to a very large population center in metropolitan WAS, plus all the western suburbs in northern Virginia, and of course IAD has a near-monopoly on the lucrative WAS international market. But even with all that, IAD clearly struggles dramatically when it comes to domestic traffic (and again, I suspect the numbers would like even more stark if BWI was also included in the above numbers).


User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23148 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6574 times:

Quoting commavia (Reply 5):
Now, I'm sure that in head-to-head markets, even where BWI does attract more O&D than DCA, DCA is still probably the yield leader most of the time.

I just checked MCO, and BWI had about a $20 o/w fare premium over DCA in Q313. I'd expect--without checking--that many of the leisure markets are this way, while places like CLE or MEM with more of a business travel mix have substantially higher yields to DCA.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlinecommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11752 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6548 times:

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):
I just checked MCO, and BWI had about a $20 o/w fare premium over DCA in Q313. I'd expect--without checking--that many of the leisure markets are this way, while places like CLE or MEM with more of a business travel mix have substantially higher yields to DCA.

Fair. Given that BWI is a hub for the nation's low-fare airline, and supports such frequency and volume, it's not necessarily shocking that BWI would have higher yields in some leisure-oriented markets. Overall, though, I would suspect that DCA is still the yield leader on a unit basis, and likely will continue to be even after the influx of new flights at DCA (since I'm guessing that Southwest and JetBlue will be pricing DCA at somewhat a premium to their flights at BWI and IAD, respectively).


User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23148 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6501 times:

Quoting commavia (Reply 7):
Overall, though, I would suspect that DCA is still the yield leader on a unit basis, and likely will continue to be even after the influx of new flights at DCA (since I'm guessing that Southwest and JetBlue will be pricing DCA at somewhat a premium to their flights at BWI and IAD, respectively).

Remember that WN isn't going to fly much DCA-Florida, so to the extent that my comment about "leisure flights" above referred to Florida, WN won't change things much.



I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
User currently offlineFlyPNS1 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 6639 posts, RR: 24
Reply 9, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6497 times:

It's good analysis, but it'd be even more interesting to see how fares have changed over time between the two airports....particularly on domestic routes. I think you'd find that fares at DCA have either fallen or at least increased slower than fares at IAD which is also a powerful dynamic. In my own experience, I routinely find domestic shorthaul fares out of IAD run $100-200 more than DCA or BWI.

And as I said in another post, mismanagement is another problem. IAD's hub carrier is UA...a carrier which is floundering through a largely unsuccessful merger with costs that are too high and an inadequate domestic fleet. DCA's largest carrier is US, which while not the best carrier by any stretch, US has a lower cost base to work from and has aggressively pursued domestic traffic from DCA.

Also, I don't think these numbers are shocking when you look at the overall geographic distribution of people in the DC region. While the areas around IAD have grown, so have all the other areas in Metro DC. Even the District of Columbia proper has seen a huge surge in population. If you were to map out what the closest airport is for every person in the metro region, you'd find that only about 1.2-1.5 million people would claim IAD as their closest airport while DCA could lay claim to nearly twice that number.


User currently offlinekgaiflyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 4301 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6487 times:
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Quoting jetblue1965 (Reply 3):
These are %pax who began or ended their journey at DCA, but still could've done a connection to reach their destination ?

Some DCA destination are by connection. For instance B6 doesn't fly DCA-LGB. Those passengers connected somewhere.

That point definitely is not clear in this survey.


User currently offlinejetblue1965 From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 1797 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6412 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 9):
And as I said in another post, mismanagement is another problem. IAD's hub carrier is UA...a carrier which is floundering through a largely unsuccessful merger with costs that are too high and an inadequate domestic fleet. DCA's largest carrier is US, which while not the best carrier by any stretch, US has a lower cost base to work from and has aggressively pursued domestic traffic from DCA.

That's an unfair judgement against United. IAD will always be at a disadvantage even if they build a maglev train from the Mall.

Put AA or DL to hub at IAD and they would run into the same headaches. No amount of mainline, WiFi, or AVOD can lift IAD's perception.


User currently offlineMWAAdude From United States of America, joined Nov 2013, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (7 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6390 times:

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 9):
If you were to map out what the closest airport is for every person in the metro region, you'd find that only about 1.2-1.5 million people would claim IAD as their closest airport while DCA could lay claim to nearly twice that number.

This is incredibly true. While there has been a great deal of population growth in the ex-urban counties and areas surrounding DC, most of those people are not frequent flyers. They live there because they can't afford to live in the city center or inner suburbs (either they are new to the area or they have recently been priced out). Another thing that's interesting to note along that line is that I believe the median income in DC/Inner suburbs has increased dramatically at least with respect to the national average. So what we have seen here in the DMV is that while population of DC and Arlington county has increased very rapidly, it's even more impressive than it actually appears because there is a huge influx of high income residents comepenstating for the outflow of lower income residents who are being priced out to the exurbs. As a result, DCA remains the preferred airport for the majority of the frequently flying public, who happen to mostly live inside the beltway.


User currently offlineMWAAdude From United States of America, joined Nov 2013, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6238 times:

Quoting jetblue1965 (Reply 11):
IAD will always be at a disadvantage even if they build a maglev train from the Mall.

MWAA knows this... A couple of months back I had an casual conversation with a guy from planning who told me that he and a couple of his coworkers were jokingly wondering what the economic impact of shutting down DCA on the region would be to force the traffic to either IAD or BWI. Now I know BWI isn't run by MWAA but it was more just a thought exercise. It's pretty hard to figure out where to draw the scope of it. Like if you shut down DCA, redeveloped the land currently there (which by the way is right next to a metro station, commuter rail line and on the water) what the value of that would be, and then also the effect that the removal of height restrictions on adjacent buildings in VA would have. As far fetched as it was it was an interesting thought exercise.

It all just goes to show that people at MWAA are trying to think of everything when it comes to moving more traffic through IAD, even if it is just brainstorming level.

As a lifetime DC resident, I really wish that congress wouldn't have a say in DCA slots. It really upsets me. And I still call it National. It will never be named after that President from California. It's a home rule thing... not a party thing.

Anyway... MWAA is trying to figure out what to do about IAD's numbers, and they don't expect the silver line to change anything.


User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4508 posts, RR: 34
Reply 14, posted (7 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6151 times:

The Washington Post had a piece this week about how DCA could handle up to 2.4 million more people next year, once the US-AA slot divestitures are completed. WN plans to have 44 dailies at Reagan by the end of the year. All those RJ's being replaced by 737's will have an effect.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...ounces-new-reagan-national-routes/

That means DCA could soon be at nearly 23 million passengers, without adding a single slot, so no slot-related congestion. What I think is most interesting is how WN is using some of these slots precisely on non-vacation markets like CAK, BDL, and CHS. Clearly WN sees enough business-traveler yield potential at medium-size markets to use slots there. All of these are markets at which the airline or FL (is CAK WN yet?) serve BWI, so the airline doesn't seem to think serving DCA from these less-dense markets will hurt them as spokes at BWI.

None of what you all have posted above about DCA-IAD traffic distribution is surprising. After all these years, and the outward growth of the DC area, DCA is still the airport to be at. The growth along the Dulles corridor isn't all outpriced seekers of less outrageously overpriced housing; there's a substantial business corridor as well. But it isn't nearly the density of downtown DC, gentrification (read: people with disposable income to fly) has put DC over 600 million population again, and essentially anything from Falls Church on in is closer to DCA.

But IAD's international numbers are impressive: over 7 million last year. Air China is soon to start 4x weekly to PEK (on top of Star partner UA's daily, right?). International probably will remain IAD's strength, so the question arises: what to do about C-D? If it ever is replaced, they might need to add only 3/4 of its capacity.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineMWAAdude From United States of America, joined Nov 2013, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 6125 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 14):
what to do about C-D? If it ever is replaced, they might need to add only 3/4 of its capacity.

Absolutely nothing will be done about C/D until MWAA figures out their debt issues unless if UA wants to pay for it completely by themselves. Frankly I don't think anything will happen anytime soon. Especially with the issues MWAA is running into with Phase I of DCMP and the fact that DCMP Phase II isn't supposed to be completed until 2018-9 or so. They just have too much debt to finance another major construction project.


User currently offlineseabosdca From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 5620 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (7 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6078 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 14):
All those RJ's being replaced by 737's will have an effect.

   And this is how capacity will slowly expand at all of our busiest airports. No need to build expensive and controversial new airports in the middle of nowhere. Concourses will get a little bit crowded, but that's the price of success.

That said, the DC area as a whole will continue to experience strong growth, and IAD will resume growth as well in the late 2010s as 1) the Silver Line is completed and 2) some wealth slowly moves westward in the wake of continued growth.


User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4508 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (7 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6056 times:

Also, and this is just personal, but I don't like IAD as an airport to use any more. When security was on the second floor steps from the ticket counters, and it was a few more steps to a moon buggy to whisk you to your concourse, IAD was actually reasonably easy to use. You never changed floors, you just stood on a moving vehicle for a few minutes. Now it's escalators down into the earth, trains and hundreds of feet of backwalking just to get from the train station, then up two flights of escalators. It's a convoluted mess.

DCA remains as convenient as ever. They're expanding the A security checkpoint, so WN and B6 pax will have more room to work with.

Also, I wonder if WN's higher costs are making BWI a less attractive drive than it used to be. I don't drive up there unless there's at least $50 of savings. Five or six years ago, BWI was so much cheaper that I didn't even look at DCA on a lot of routes. Now, the fares tend to be much closer. I don't need to check a bag on on all but the longest trips, so baggage fees aren't an issue. It doesn't pay me to be loyal to any airline. I love the experience of flying WN, but I have good experiences with the employees of the other carriers, too.

WN, as I've said for some time, needs to deal with their costs. At DCA, slightly lower costs plus DCA yields should make it a gold mine for them. But to keep BWI strong, they need to deal with costs.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4508 posts, RR: 34
Reply 18, posted (7 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5725 times:

Quoting MWAAdude (Reply 15):
Absolutely nothing will be done about C/D until MWAA figures out their debt issues unless if UA wants to pay for it completely by themselves. Frankly I don't think anything will happen anytime soon. Especially with the issues MWAA is running into with Phase I of DCMP and the fact that DCMP Phase II isn't supposed to be completed until 2018-9 or so. They just have too much debt to finance another major construction project.

All of this sounds correct to me. Gate capacity isn't an issue, and the Metro has proven more costly than planned. Just keep the paint fresh and make sure C-D has concessions suited to its traffic mix. Although the building was built to be temporary, it seems to be holding up well....even if it looks like (as someone at this site put it) a giant jetway.

Quoting MWAAdude (Reply 13):
A couple of months back I had an casual conversation with a guy from planning who told me that he and a couple of his coworkers were jokingly wondering what the economic impact of shutting down DCA on the region would be to force the traffic to either IAD or BWI.

With about 7 million people, with one larger and more affluent center and one smaller and much less affluent center, the DC-Baltimore area is the smallest in the US to have three 20-plus million pax / year airports. It means the distribution will always be odd. BWI is well-suited to be a low-fare hub. It seems to stay uncongested even without parallel mainline a/c-capable runways, due to its mainline-heavy a/c mix. It's between the two metro-area centers, closer to the less affluent one, and is well-located near the East Coast for hub connections.

Because DCA pulls away the downtown business traffic and leisure for population around it, IAD is at a structural disadvantage. I actually think UA does well at IAD given that situation, maintaining hub links to almost all large, medium, and small markets in the East. Yes, the thinner traffic means smaller, higher-CASM a/c, but the hub is still there, easily feeding UA's international and West Coast flights (the main purposes of the hub for UA). It just means that IAD won't be a domestic legacy hub of choice, say for going to Florida.

I for one would argue that UA is a post-consolidation loser for hubs on the East Coast. EWR is a congestion mess, even though it has domestic-suitable density, and IAD is weak for downtown high-yield traffic. CLT and ATL are far better hub facilities.

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 16):
That said, the DC area as a whole will continue to experience strong growth, and IAD will resume growth as well in the late 2010s as 1) the Silver Line is completed and 2) some wealth slowly moves westward in the wake of continued growth.

IAD does well, given the situation. I think MWAA miscalculated on incurring the cost of the trains; the moon buggies were actually convenient and didn't require musical-escalators by pax. But the airport serves its place in the regional three-airport market structure. International growth can help keep the debt serviced, and reduce the impact of the costs of building the train.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineoc2dc From United States of America, joined Feb 2013, 396 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5607 times:

Originally I wanted to partially blame the additional beyond perimeter slots for the demise of IAD. However, those slots are limited, especially to huge markets like DCA-SFO/LAX.

This data makes it seem like no matter what, if people have to connect to get to the DC, they will overwhelmingly choose to fly into DCA. There are no restrictions the government can put on DCA to force more passengers through IAD. . .People can simply connect and get to DCA. The only restriction is the passenger capacity at DCA. I'm not sure how much it is designed to hold, but if they meet that capacity, traffic may start to shift back a bit to IAD.


Does anybody else see any parallels between IAD and NRT?



I'm not complaining, I'm critiquing...
User currently offlinejetblue1965 From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 1797 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5544 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 18):
I for one would argue that UA is a post-consolidation loser for hubs on the East Coast. EWR is a congestion mess, even though it has domestic-suitable density, and IAD is weak for downtown high-yield traffic. CLT and ATL are far better hub facilities.

They don't have the same functionality.

CLT is primarily a regional hub (much higher volume relative to catchment area) with some European services.

EWR is about New York plus global connections to far corners such as BOM, TLV, GRU, and HKG.

Regarding the facility alone, EWR Terminal C easily rivals CLT. Of course, IAD is still a relic.


User currently offlinetommy767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 6670 posts, RR: 9
Reply 21, posted (7 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 5498 times:

Quoting jetblue1965 (Reply 20):
Regarding the facility alone, EWR Terminal C easily rivals CLT. Of course, IAD is still a relic.

Is it?

EWR is more of a delayed hellhole, IAD is just dumpy. IAD at the very least has a major operational advantage.



"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
User currently offlinejetblue1965 From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 1797 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (7 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 5289 times:

Quoting tommy767 (Reply 21):

Is it?

EWR is more of a delayed hellhole, IAD is just dumpy. IAD at the very least has a major operational advantage.

JFK and LGA are barely better in the on-time rankings, so it's not all roses and peaches across the river either.


User currently offlineLoudounHound From United States of America, joined Mar 2014, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (7 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 5130 times:

Quoting oc2dc (Reply 19):
This data makes it seem like no matter what, if people have to connect to get to the DC, they will overwhelmingly choose to fly into DCA. There are no restrictions the government can put on DCA to force more passengers through IAD. . .People can simply connect and get to DCA. The only restriction is the passenger capacity at DCA. I'm not sure how much it is designed to hold, but if they meet that capacity, traffic may start to shift back a bit to IAD.

First time post following the typical years of lurking on the board.

I also found the numbers quite revealing. The problems with IAD are many, but clearly the market is price sensitive. After all, people showed up in droves during Independence Air's brief life, because fares were cheap. Now UA charges a premium for practically every nonstop. Nearly all of my flights for the past couple years have been from DCA, even though it's 30 minutes further than IAD, due to much lower fares. Price sensitive customers vote with their feet, and they're choosing DCA and BWI.

MWAA miscalculated on several things, and a lot of those decisions were made during the Indy Air heyday. The best example is the fourth runway, which is hardly necessary now. The resulting landing fees MWAA has to charge at IAD are the highest of all three local airports, by a lot. I think I saw the numbers for 2012, and if memory serves, BWI was about $10/passenger, DCA was about $15, and IAD was $25 or so. That gives BWI a tremendous pricing advantage. This is also the reason that a C/D concourse replacement at IAD just ain't going to happen anytime soon.

So I agree that in the short term DCA will absorb the additional traffic from the slot redistribution, and keep regional fares relatively low with the new competition. IAD will continue to leak domestic traffic for a few more years. Eventually DCA will reach capacity, unless Congress meddles again. This possibility alone probably keeps airlines from investing in IAD service, since they'd much prefer waiting and jockeying for DCA slots.

It's going to take a long time for MWAA to pay down the IAD debt such that they can afford another capital expenditure, e.g. concourse C/D replacement, or lower landing fees. It's probably more plausible that over time BWI's and DCA's landing fees will rise closer to IAD's. Then IAD could regain a more competitive posture, and take advantage of the continuing development and increasing population of the western DC suburbs. UA management could speed things up by bringing cash to the table, too, but as others have pointed out, that's highly unlikely anytime soon as well.


User currently offlinePSU.DTW.SCE From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 7661 posts, RR: 27
Reply 24, posted (7 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 5117 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy" class="quote" target="_blank">DCA-ROCguy (Reply 18):
With about 7 million people, with one larger and more affluent center and one smaller and much less affluent center, the DC-Baltimore area is the smallest in the US to have three 20-plus million pax / year airports. It means the distribution will always be odd. BWI is well-suited to be a low-fare hub. It seems to stay uncongested even without parallel mainline a/c-capable runways, due to its mainline-heavy a/c mix. It's between the two metro-area centers, closer to the less affluent one, and is well-located near the East Coast for hub connections.

BWI with WN service and the lower/more rationale fare structure (historically, less so now) also pulls from a huge catchment area. BWI is a viable option for a good portion of southeastern and central Pennsylvania and for the whole Del-mar-va peninsula. Those regions have limited and/or high cost air service and leisure travelers have shown they will drive 3+ hours to get WN service from BWI.

Quoting DCA-ROCguy" class="quote" target="_blank">DCA-ROCguy (Reply 18):
Because DCA pulls away the downtown business traffic and leisure for population around it, IAD is at a structural disadvantage. I actually think UA does well at IAD given that situation, maintaining hub links to almost all large, medium, and small markets in the East. Yes, the thinner traffic means smaller, higher-CASM a/c, but the hub is still there, easily feeding UA's international and West Coast flights (the main purposes of the hub for UA). It just means that IAD won't be a domestic legacy hub of choice, say for going to Florida.

DCA just makes more sense in most cases for business and leisure travelers heading into the core areas in/near downtown and where Metro service exists.

Even when I was going to areas where I could have flown to IAD or DCA, DCA made more sense coming from DTW due to the far superior schedule/frequency (and mainline aircraft). DL only flies DTW-IAD 3x per day, versus 7-9x per day on DTW-DCA. In made more sense to fly to DCA and rent a car versus IAD and rent a car.


25 tommy767 : JFK is definitely better than EWR from a delay perspective. A lot more volume is handled out there. The biggest thing at the end of the day is LGA an
26 Post contains images DCA-ROCguy : Absolutely. It's all about runway capacity. Denser use of an existing terminal works fine as long as baggage-handling and security aren't delayed, an
27 MWAAdude : One of the biggest relics from the Indy Air days is the shelf'd plans that MWAA has for the E/F gates. Infact when the APM was built, they actually b
28 ScottB : Honestly, I don't think the Silver Line will make a difference in the choice between DCA & IAD. The ride from L'Enfant Plaza to DCA is 10 minutes
29 MWAAdude : I always consider it part of DC because MWAA's address is 1 Aviation Circle Washington DC 20001 ...and the fact that I don't believe retrocession was
30 seabosdca : Not everyone is traveling from L'Enfant Plaza, which is about the best case for DCA and the worst for IAD. Lots and lots of people are traveling from
31 IADCA : Sure, but L'Enfant isn't really downtown, and it just happens to be the single most convenient stop in DC to DCA, in addition to being a shortcut to
32 LoudounHound : You may well be right on that count, which more or less condemns IAD to higher operational costs for many years to come. MWAA would love to divert so
33 knope2001 : Yup...when the terms "O+D" or "local O+D" that refers to people who started their journey in city AAA and ended it in BBB regardless of routing...non
34 flylku : Interesting. For what its worth: Just booked two flights out of DC today, both from IAD even though I am 2 miles from DCA. One was to LAX. I stick wit
35 knope2001 : Here's the same with BWI included from the same period (Q3 2013)....O+D traffic for markets where DCA+IAD+BWI is 200+ daily passengers (both ways comb
36 Post contains images kgaiflyer : Everybody has a story. I buy I own fares and get reimbursed by bean-counters. So I go to whichever airport -- BWI, DCA, IAD -- has the better fare se
37 WROORD : Amen to that, not to mention the cool views while landing and taking off from DCA that you do not get at IAD.
38 capitalflyer : A couple of years ago I lived about 2 miles east of IAD. And I found it cheaper to drive, pay for parking, and fly out of DCA then the quick 5 minute
39 tarmacphotos : Slightly off topic, but why isn't PIT on this list? I count 9 daily departures to IAD/DCA from PIT mostly on E170s. Are they flying that empty that w
40 flyiguy : Air India did used to fly to IAD from a tag on from JFK but it didn't last long. Out of these, Alitalia did fly to IAD in the past, but it's been ove
41 knope2001 : PIT-DCA is 117.5/day and PIT-IAD is 39.8/day, so they don't combine to hit the 200/day level. Flights are far fuller than that but they carry a lot o
42 c680 : All of this still does not explain the large number of Regional Jets used in and out of DCA. With slots highly coveted, and DCA having more appeal tha
43 LoudounHound : Look again in a few months and this will have changed. US and AA are surrendering oodles of slots currently used for regional jet and prop flying to
44 Post contains images MWAAdude : Ha! [Edited 2014-03-26 04:57:18]
45 ScottB : Because the largest carrier, US, has historically operated smaller aircraft to keep capacity down and maximize yields. There's no really good reason
46 MSJYOP28Apilot : Loudoun and Fairfax are annually the top two counties in terms of median household income in the whole country. Affording DC is not the issue. There
47 oc2dc : Yes, some of us are traveling from Arlington. Crystal City to be exact. I'm definitely not hopping on the silver line to head to IAD when I can pract
48 jetblue1965 : For those who live in DC and are closest to DCA, do you take a connection DCA-ORD-SFO or would you make the journey out west just to do IAD-SFO nonsto
49 YoungDon : I agree with this that most people don't realize exactly how difficult it is to get to IAD from anywhere that isn't actually in Northern VA. Places s
50 DCAfan : I live within a block of Archives metro station and am a 12 minute one-seat ride away from DCA. When the Silver line is finally completed, I figure t
51 seabosdca : When I lived in DC I lived along the Yellow Line (first right by Archives, then right by U St station). The trip to DCA was so much easier than the t
52 czek6 : I think if one takes a more long-term look at all three WAS airports, the picture is much rosier for Dulles. Yes, in the short term, DCA will continue
53 tarmacphotos : Thanks for the info!
54 IADCA : I typically connect. FWIW, I live in Rosslyn, which is about 10 minutes on the Blue from DCA but is also one of only 4 stops on the 5A metrobus to IA
55 denverdanny : My relatives live in Washington DC. I talked to them about the Silver line, and how exciting that was going to be, and they had no clue that it was go
56 AA94 : It's difficult for me to believe that they don't expect the Silver Line to change anything. If that were the case, there'd be no point in building th
57 MWAAdude : They are hoping that the Silver Line will drive more development along the Toll Road and Greenway, causing more people to live out there who will dri
58 FlyPNS1 : That's not really true. The primary purpose of the Silver Line is to enable people to more easily commute from Loudoun County down the Dulles Corrido
59 Post contains images MWAAdude :
60 capitalflyer : FYI, BA is bringing A380 to IAD beginning Sep. 1. This may be old news but I am slow on the draw!
61 washingtonflyer : I am surprised by comments from those who think that living in the "exurbs" necessarily means being priced out of the market in the inner core. Have y
62 STT757 : When you use the term "volume" are you refering to passengers or actual flights? EWR has more flights than JFK, however JFK handles more passengers.
63 knope2001 : Another point of getting silver to Dulles is transportation for the 1000's who work at the airport. I've seen everyone from pilots to rampers to renta
64 washingtonflyer : I forgot to add one point re: DCA. I don't think it is possible to do a 1:1 swapout of aircraft at DCA - removing RJs in favor of larger aircraft. The
65 MWAAdude : If you are refering to my earlier comment, yeah maybe I was a little incorrect but I don't really think of Loudoun as an exurb. I am thinking further
66 YXwatcherMKE : Granted that the majority of the MKE to WAS passengers O/D market is to DCA, but I do wonder how many passengers would do a MKE-IAD Flight for interna
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