In Case You Missed It: San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board Endorses More Nonstop Flights At DCA

In case you missed it, the San Antonio Express-News editorial board is urging Congress to add more nonstop flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The editorial notes that because of the outdated perimeter rule, San Antonio has no direct flight to DCA – despite being the nation’s seventh-largest city and “Military City, USA.”

The lack of convenient air travel leaves San Antonio travelers with unnecessary connecting flights and undermines the city’s economic competitiveness. Many residents opt for other area airports, such as Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), with more nonstop flight options. Securing a direct route to DCA would benefit the 145 daily travelers between the two cities and San Antonio’s significant military presence, while also promoting airport growth.

San Antonio International Airport (SAT) currently serves 10 million passengers each year, with a projected increase to 18 million in the next 20 years. To facilitate the airport’s growth, the city is investing $25 billion into an expansion – a move aimed at accommodating more nonstop flights, the editorial board says. With the ongoing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization discussions in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, now is the time for Congress to add flights at DCA, including a nonstop route to SAT.

Read the entire piece HERE and below:

Editorial: San Antonio’s Small-Town Problem: No Direct Flights To Reagan National, Other Places.
San Antonio Express-News
Express-News Editorial Board
August 17, 2023

San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the nation, but the lack of nonstop flights to Washington D.C. is a small-town problem.

Virtually no one enjoys connecting flights. Those who fly just want to get to their destination. So, we’re thrilled local leaders are once again pushing for nonstop flights to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

About 145 daily passengers fly between San Antonio International Airport and Reagan National in the heart of D.C., according to 2022 data provided by the city of San Antonio’s aviation department. Each endures a connecting flight and corresponding delay and stress.

Standing in the way are antiquated Federal Aviation Administration regulations that include a slot rule that reduces congestion by controlling the number of takeoffs and landings at the airport. There is also a perimeter rule that prohibits flights to or from airports outside a 1,250-mile boundary around Reagan. A handful of cities have exemptions including Austin, Los Angeles and Seattle. San Antonio, with its robust military presence, deserves an exemption.

This lack of an exemption only hurts San Antonio’s economic competitiveness.

In a 2019 city survey, almost half of respondents, 45.2 percent, said they use the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport over the San Antonio International Airport and 14.2 percent said they use George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

More than 10 million passengers a year, an average of 25,000 people per day, fly in and out of the San Antonio International Airport. In the next 20 years, that number could grow to 18 million passengers per year, according to the city.

Of all the U.S. airports that San Antonians travel to without nonstop air service, Reagan National is the second-most popular, behind New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.

San Antonio is Military City, USA. A nonstop flight to Reagan would especially benefit Joint Base San Antonio — which includes the Lackland, Randolph and Fort Sam Houston installations — and defense contractors with offices or headquarters in the city, said Rob Killen, who chairs the government affairs council at the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Current and former service members travel to the nation’s capital regularly to meet top Department of Defense officials at the Pentagon and surrounding military installations. Given our strong military community, San Antonio is also a primary location for cybersecurity companies, with the second-largest concentration of professionals in this area in the country, according to Rolando Pablos, a 2023 board officer for the Texas Association of Business.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, of which Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a ranking member, is writing an FAA reauthorization bill to include four nonstop flights not subject to the perimeter rule.

Cruz said last week that securing a nonstop flight for San Antonio is a “massive priority” for him — as it should be for one of the fastest growing major cities in the nation.

Our city is investing in a $2.5 billion expansion of the airport. That expansion will create capacity for more nonstop flights.

While a nonstop flight to Reagan National is paramount, San Antonio needs to bolster its nonstop offerings to other destinations. We support the effort from Greater: SATX, the region’s economic development arm, and Visit San Antonio, to pursue nonstop service with 18 cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and Europe. More nonstop flights means greater connection to the world. It’s past time to put San Antonio on the map.

About CAA

CAA consists of diverse members from around the country and various industries, including transportation, general business groups, the small business sector, entrepreneurs and job creators, organizations focused on economic development and leaders in the civic and policy communities. 

Learn more about Capital Access Alliance HERE.