Kind of interesting if you are following what Tennessee law makers are trying to do with the Wright Amendment. Well now they can get to DCA a bit quicker from Nashville, thanks to American Eagle.
American adds flights from D.C. to Nashville
By Trebor Banstetter
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
FORT WORTH -- American Airlines executives swear it's just a coincidence.
Yes, they acknowledge, the Fort Worth-based carrier is launching new nonstop service between Nashville and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
And yes, American's lobbyists happen to be pressing Tennessee's members of Congress to abandon efforts to overturn the Wright Amendment, which protects the airline's fortress hub at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
But there's no connection between the two events, insisted airline spokesman Tim Wagner.
"Not everything we do is necessarily tied to the Wright Amendment," he said in a polite but slightly exasperated tone Wednesday.
Deliberate or not, the new service announced Wednesday will be a nice perk for lawmakers who happen to live in Nashville. Previously, American offered no nonstop service from Music City to the nation's capital.
Beginning in May, American Eagle will start three daily flights from Nashville to Reagan National -- the airport that's just a few miles from downtown Washington, and convenient for traveling senators and representatives. The flights will be flown on 37-seat ERJ-135 regional jets.
Wagner pointed out that Eagle has launched eight new routes between other cities just this month.
"We evaluate every market to determine if we can serve a customer demand," he said. "Nashville and Reagan seemed like a natural fit."
American executives have been canvassing Washington in recent weeks, hoping to quell an effort to overturn the Wright Amendment, which restricts airline traffic at Dallas Love Field to connecting states, as well as Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi.
The law prevents Southwest Airlines from connecting distant cities to Dallas, because the airline refuses to operate at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. That means American has no low-fare competition on many routes from D/FW, including flights to Nashville.
Tennessee legislators began the anti-amendment uprising last year, with a bill that would have exempted the state from the restrictions. That bill was sparked by Nashville businesses who complained of expensive fares to D/FW.
In recent weeks, American has sharply lowered walk-up fares between the two cities -- a move many observers said was designed to quell the rhetoric from Nashville business travelers.
Lobbyists from Dallas-based Southwest have also been talking up members of Congress, pushing for a repeal of the amendment.
That airline has offered nonstop service between Nashville and Washington for years, although to the less-convenient Baltimore/Washington Airport, which is about 30 miles from downtown Washington.
"Lots of legislators are big fans of Southwest, because they're traveling on the public's dime," said Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin. "Many consider us their company airline."
She also noted that her airline's flights are on full-sized Boeing 737 jets, with 137 seats.
Seems like a coincidence, right?