The flights between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) will add service on a route that is already very popular with customers in government, defense, entertainment and consulting services.
At the same time, Delta (NYSE:DAL) will move one of its flights that connects the nation’s capital to Salt Lake City (SLC) from DCA to Washington-Dulles International (IAD) to make space available for the new West Coast flights at DCA. Reagan National has a “perimeter rule” that limits commercial carriers to 20 round trips per day beyond 1,250 nautical miles of the airport, and the new service would otherwise have caused Delta to exceed that limit.
The Perimeter Rule is a federal regulation, 49 U.S. Code § 49109, established in 1966 when jet aircraft began operating at DCA. The initial Perimeter Rule limited non-stop service to and from Washington National Airport, as it was known then, to 650 statute miles, with some exceptions for previously existing service. By the mid-1980s, Congress had expanded non-stop service from DCA 1,250 statute miles.
Ultimately, Reagan National serves primarily as a "short-haul" airport while IAD serves as the region's "long-haul" growth airport, according to DCA’s website.
The carrier believes adding additional beyond-perimeter slots would be beneficial but notes that will not be possible without a change in federal statute.
“We believe that new ‘beyond-perimeter’ slots would help to create new jobs and economic growth through new business and tourism opportunities in addition to lowering ticket prices and benefiting consumers through increased competition,” Andrea Newman, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Government Affairs, said.
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The new service from LAX marks the latest in Delta’s continuing investment in the West Coast region. Earlier this year, Delta announced a $1.9bn plan to modernize, upgrade and connect Terminals 2 and 3 at LAX over the next seven years, as well as to provide a secure connector to the north side of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Since 2009, Delta has been the fastest-growing carrier at LAX, more than doubling its number of seats and growing from 70 daily departures to more than 175, the airline said in a statement announcing the new and changed routes.
So far this year, the airline has launched five daily flights from LAX to Denver International Airport (DEN), a key route for business travelers in Los Angeles. It has expanded the Delta Shuttle to include Los Angeles-Seattle (SEA) and SEA-San Francisco (SFO) in addition to Los Angeles-San Francisco. It has increased service to both New York-JFK and SEA to 10 daily flights, added a third daily flight to Boston (BOS), and will be launching new service to Aspen (SE) and Los Cabos International (SJD) in December.
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