SEATTLE, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska Airlines today applied for two new flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the closest airport to the nation's capital. The airline's bid would provide nonstop service from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Ore., and San Diego — the two cities with the largest passenger demand that don't already have flights to National. If granted, Alaska would offer one daily roundtrip flight to each city.
"Providing residents of the greater Portland area with convenient nonstop service to the nation's capital is the priority for Alaska Airlines in applying for more DCA service, and we're thrilled this day has finally come," said Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group's president and chief executive officer-elect. "Alaska is also eager to add nonstop service to San Diego — the largest market in the country without nonstop service to Reagan National."
National is one of the few domestic commercial airports in the nation that requires an act of Congress to add flights. To be considered for four roundtrip flights longer than 1,250 miles that Congress authorized last month, airlines are required to submit their application to the Department of Transportation (DOT) today. Alaska applied for two of the four flights.
No other carrier currently provides nonstop service to Reagan National from Portland or San Diego. Nonstop service from Oregon to the greater Washington, D.C., area is limited to a single daily flight into Dulles International Airport, located in Virginia more than 25 miles from downtown D.C.
"Oregon is one of the most underserved states for air service to and from Washington, D.C.," said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "With the technology industry becoming a vital part of Oregon's economy and D.C. being the center of tech policy, increased direct access to Washington can only be a boost to our economic prospects. It is great that Alaska Airlines is bidding to provide this really important service for Oregon businesses and residents."
Wyden joined Oregon's six other members of Congress in a strong statement of support for Alaska Airlines' application for Portland-Reagan service. The congressional delegations from the states of Alaska and Washington also wrote letters urging the DOT to approve the airline's application.
"Southwest Washington and greater Portland residents should have direct access to their nation's capital," said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and chair of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee. "This direct flight would support business growth and jobs in Southwest Washington and Oregon, and it would make the Pacific Northwest more accessible and attractive to East Coast businesses and tourists. That's one reason I fought hard in the FAA bill to increase western flights to Washington, D.C. I will be following up with the DOT to ensure Alaska Airlines' bid is strongly considered."
Citing Alaska's expansive West Coast route structure and competitive fares, Tilden said Alaska is uniquely qualified to provide additional service to Reagan National from both Portland and San Diego. Alaska Airlines' flights to National would also significantly improve connecting service for passengers traveling from several West Coast destinations served by the carrier, including Eugene, Medford and Redmond/Bend. Ore., San Jose, Calif., and Honolulu.
"Oregon residents and our business community need a convenient nonstop flight to the nation's capital, a cause I've fiercely championed behind the scenes for the last several years, " said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "As Oregon's hometown airline and with their strong Portland hub, Alaska is perfectly suited to serve this route. I urge Oregon residents to join me in sending a letter to the DOT today in support of Alaska Airlines' flight to D.C."
Bringing Rose City to the Capital
With more than three decades of service to the Rose City, Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, operate more than 640 flights a week from their Portland hub — more than any other carrier.
"Direct routes to Washington, D.C., mean better connections and more opportunities for Oregonians," said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. "It is critically important that our businesses have these opportunities to grow. The existing routes through Dulles airport aren't enough for the demand and aren't a replacement for a direct flight to National Airport. A new route will better meet the needs of our businesses and all Oregonians."
In support of its application for Reagan National flights, Alaska Airlines launched a grassroots online campaign today urging residents of the greater Portland and San Diego areas to support its efforts by sending a letter to the DOT during the public comment period that ends March 27, 2012. Customers can learn more at alaskaair.com/flyDCA.
Alaska Airlines currently operates three daily nonstop flights to Reagan National: two from Seattle and one from Los Angeles.
The DOT is expected to make a decision in May. If Alaska is awarded the slots for Portland and San Diego, the carrier could begin service as soon as late August.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 North America Airline Satisfaction Studies(SM). For reservations, visit www.alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at www.alaskaair.com/newsroom.
SOURCE Alaska Airlines