Southwest Airlines Implementing Rapid Expansion at DCA This Fall

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Southwest Airlines started serving Ronald Regan National Airport (DCA) in June of 2012. Since then, they have gained greater access to the slot controlled and perimeter restricted airport thru its purchase of take-off and landing slots after the Department of Transportation made American Airlines and US Airways divest some of their slots at DCA to win merger approval.
Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 1.19.03 AMThe settlement which was approved in April 2014 called for 104 slots at DCA and 34 slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport to be sold, along with gates at five airports.

Earlier in September, Southwest Airlines quietly expanded to six of the nine gates in Terminal A, and plans on growing the number of daily departures from 17 to 44 in three waves of increased service:

  • Started August 10, Southwest flies from DCA to Chicago’s Midway Airport six times a day, to Nashville with three daily flights and to New Orleans twice a day.
  • Starting September 30, Southwest will add two daily flights from DCA to Tampa Bay and increase its daily service to Chicago to nine flights a day.
  • Starting November 2, Southwest will add one daily flight from DCA to Akron, Ohio, Dallas Love Field and Indianapolis, and expand its existing service from DCA to Houston Hobby and St. Louis.

This will give Southwest Airlines approximately 300 departures a week to 14 different destinations: Atlanta, Akron/Canton, Austin, Chicago Midway, Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis and Tampa.

Bottom Line:

This expansion has the potential make Southwest Airlines the second-largest carrier at DCA – behind the new American Airlines – by the end of the year.  Southwest still dominates BWI with 70 percent of the traffic out of that airport, and it will be interesting to see if Southwest will grow the traffic out of DCA or just split some of its existing traffic out of BWI.  What do you think?


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