Texans Triumph in Fight to Get Direct Flights from San Antonio to Washington, D.C.

By: Matthew Choi | Texas Tribune | MAY 15, 2024

WASHINGTON — In a major victory for San Antonians in Congress, the city is poised to get more nonstop flights to the nation’s capital after the House voted to pass this year’s Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act on Wednesday.

Members from San Antonio across the political spectrum, from Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro to Republican Rep. Chip Roy, unified in pushing for more flights between the two cities as Congress deliberated on the legislation. The bill authorizes $105 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration over the next five years. It also includes a host of measures designed to improve passenger safety and comfort.

But it was a bumpy path to passage, with members of Virginia’s delegation fighting aggressively against adding new flights out of Washington’s Reagan National Airport. Virginia’s members asserted adding flights would burden the already crowded airport, potentially opening it to greater risk of accidents.

The airport, located just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington and known by its airport code DCA, limits the number of flights to and from airports beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter from the airport.

The perimeter is intended to manage traffic into the small airport. The national capital area’s primary international airport is Washington Dulles International Airport located about 26 miles from the city and 33 miles from the Pentagon. DCA does not have immigration facilities or the capacity to operate high-volume long haul flights. Dulles is considerably larger and is located in a less developed part of Virginia with land to grow.

San Antonio falls just outside the 1,250-mile perimeter, meaning nonstop flights to Washington currently must go through Dulles. San Antonio members asserted that nonstop flights into DCA would be easier for military service members traveling between the two regions due to its proximity to the Pentagon. Bexar County is home to about 80,000 active-duty service members and 159,000 veterans. San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the country with over 1.4 million residents.

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