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Today the DOT released its decision on what to do with the DCA slot pair that Spirit Airlines returned to the DOT when it shifted service from DCA to Baltimore/Washington Airport. There were three bids for the slot pair and today the DOT awarded Southwest the slot to start HOU-DCA.

This inside perimeter slot allows an airline to start once-a-day service to DCA from any airport within 1,250 miles of DCA.  That’s basically anywhere within this circle


Personally I wanted to see Cubana start HAV-DCA, but that’s not my call. 😉

Three airlines bid to start service: JetBlue wanted to start Jacksonville Florida service; US Airways wanted to start Oklahoma City service; and Southwest wanted to start Houston-Hobby Service.

The DOT evaluated each bid against set criteria. First, there was aircraft size, JetBlue and Southwest both pledged mainline aircraft on the route, a A320 and 737 respectively. For the record Southwest only uses 737 aircraft in their fleet. US Airways wanted to use an ERJ-195 with 99 seats and stated that the route maybe operated by regional carriers. The DOT did not like that US Airways planned to use non-mainline aircraft and really did not like the idea of regional carriers on the route. So, the DOT rejected US Airways’ bid. Next, the DOT looked at “fare premium.” Fare premium is how much of a premium people pay for the proposed route as compared to other reasonably sized cities. A city with a high premium is more susceptible to competition and the DOT would prefer new service be started between city pairs that demand a high premium in order to reduce fares. The DOT found that HOU-DCA commanded a 45% premium compared to Jacksonville which only commanded a 10% premium. The DOT found that Houston-Washington DC would benefit from more competition so the DOT awarded the route to Southwest to start Houston-DCA.

Southwest now has 10 days to submit a proposed schedule to the DOT with service to begin no later than August 5th.

Use the link to read the full decision.


Happy Travels!


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