Congressman: Airlines' help critical to getting SA-to-DC nonstop flights

August 14, 2018
In The News

The Alamo City’s push for federal legislative action to allow nonstop flights between San Antonio International Airport and Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., will require more help from airlines to succeed, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd told the Business Journal.

Hurd, R-Helotes, and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, have sought an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act that would exempt San Antonio from the so-called “perimeter rule,” which prohibits nonstop flights to Reagan from airports more than 1,250 miles away. The amendment was withdrawn in May after it received significant opposition from the airline industry.

Officials with United Airlines, for example, warned that an exemption from the perimeter rule would negatively affect communities served by Reagan National and Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

While Hurd does not believe the hurdles are insurmountable, he said more allies are needed to make the flights a reality.

“This is going to require a broader educational initiative with some of my members to show that it’s not going to hurt airports,” Hurd said. “It’s going to require an airline that really wants to make this happen.”

More than a year ago, local leaders were optimistic that they were making headway on the nonstop flights. In July 2017, Cuellar said, “There are a lot of moving parts, but I have met with all the relevant players. We have had productive conversations.”

There is a growing recognition, however, that gaining nonstop flights between San Antonio International and Reagan National may be more difficult than initially expected. 

Brian Pratte, chief air services development officer for the city of San Antonio, said local airport officials continue to reach out to airlines about additional flights — including potential nonstop access to Reagan.

“This remains an ongoing conversation,” Pratte said. “The goal is to get this done.”

Hurd said the pursuit of SA-to-DC flights is far from over. But the fight has become more intense.

“I think everyone recognizes the seriousness in how difficult this task actually is,” he said.