Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
Reagan National Airport just outside Washington, D.C. is one of the most convenient "big city" airports in the world: accessible by subway, less than 20 minutes from downtown. So it's something of a pain to D.C. residents -- along with lobbyists, lawmakers and government jet setters -- that a so-called "perimeter rule" from the Department of Transportation has prevented airlines from running direct flights from DCA to many major airports. Most passengers wanting to fly farther than 1,250 miles need to do so out of Baltimore or Dulles International Airports each at least 30-60 minutes from downtown D.C.
As the Economist points out, exceptions were granted in 2000 and 2011 allowing "one flight a day to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, with two flights to Seattle, four to Denver and three to Phoenix." In total, since Congress first created slot exemptions in 2000, the DOT has approved 20 round-trip flights beyond 1,250 miles, the DOT said.
Today we learn of the next four exceptions.
According to a DOT statement:
The U.S. Department of Transportation selected Alaska Airlines for service to Portland, Ore.; JetBlue Airways for San Juan, Puerto Rico; Southwest Airlines for Austin, Texas; and Virgin America for San Francisco. This is Virgin America’s first service at Reagan National. The other carriers currently have only limited service at the airport. Each city will receive one new nonstop roundtrip per day.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on Feb. 14, allowed four more daily round trips to receive exemptions to the perimeter rule.