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Airlines Vie for First Long Washington Flights Since ’04

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March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Southwest Airlines Co., Alaska Air Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. applied to operate new nonstop flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where the first long-haul routes are being added since 2004.

Southwest, based in Dallas, and New York-based JetBlue are both seeking permission to offer the first nonstop, round-trip flights to Austin, Texas, from National. JetBlue also said it wants to operate the first nonstop services to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from National, and Southwest’s service includes a proposal for a one-stop, same-plane service to San Diego from National via Austin, it said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is offering four round-trip flights to carriers with limited or no service at National, and four more are earmarked for the biggest operators. Virgin America Inc. also submitted an application today to operate two round-trip flights between San Francisco and National, which is prized by business and government fliers for its proximity to downtown Washington.

Alaska Air is seeking permission to offer the first nonstop, round-trip flights to San Diego and Portland, Oregon, from National, the Seattle-based carrier also said in a statement today.

The application deadline for carriers with limited or no service at National is today, and the government is expected to award the flights in May.

Long-Haul Departures

United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp.’s American Airlines unit and US Airways Group Inc., four big tenants at the airport, are each getting an extra long-distance flight at National.

National is the only airport outside New York where regulators control access and most flights are limited to a 1,250-mile (2,000-kilometer) radius. The new flights would push daily long-haul departures to 20 in the coming months, a 67 percent increase.

The new slots were authorized by a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration signed into law in February, and are the first created since 2004, according to the Transportation Department.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at