American Airlines is asking the government for permission to fly here

As the second-largest city in Texas and home to multiple military bases, San Antonio has been seeing the strongest population growth in what is already the country’s fastest-growing state. 

U.S. Census data shows that, between July 2022 and 2023, the city welcomed more than 22,000 new residents to a population that is now just under 1.5 million people while even higher numbers are expected by the time the data is calculated for 2024 in the coming months.

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With growing numbers of people traveling out of the city or coming in to check it out, airlines are also seeing business potential — this week, American Airlines  (AAL)  announced that it is asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to launch a flight between the city and Washington, D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Here is why American Airlines needs to ask for permission to run this flight

While in other cases, the airline would have been able to just launch the flight outright, the smaller airport closer to the nation’s capital’s downtown is subject to the DCA Perimeter Rule. The law, which has been around in different forms since 1966, requires special government approval for any nonstop flight coming in from farther than 1,250 miles. The reasoning behind it comes down to safety and unknown flights coming too close to the Pentagon.

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“American is proud to submit an application to provide the only nonstop service between San Antonio and Washington, D.C.,” American Airlines’ Senior Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning Brian Znotins, said in a statement. “This new service will expand American’s industry-leading domestic network connecting customers to the places they want to visit most.”

If approved, the new route would be the only direct service between DCA and San Antonio and run daily on an Airbus A321  (EADSF) .

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These are the details of the proposed San Antonio-DCA route

The flight out of San Antonio to DCA will depart at 6:35 a.m. and arrive at 10:59 a.m. local time while the return flight from D.C. will leave at 7:45 p.m. to arrive at 10:29 p.m. Texas time.

The proposed names for the two flights, 1718 and 1947, are a nod to the respective founding year of San Antonio and establishment of the U.S. Air Force post-World War II. Due to the large number of bases and residents with a connection to various military branches, San Antonio is also known by the moniker “The Military City.”

Local San Antonio residents and lawmakers have been very eager for such a route as it would both help bring in tourists to the city and allow people to fly into central DC without having to transfer or take transport from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia.

“Adding a nonstop route to Reagan National Airport is part of our efforts to expand air operations for the San Antonio region,” Jesus Saenz, who heads the Airports for the San Antonio Airport System, said in a statement. “We’re grateful to American Airlines for their shared vision to improve connectivity and for helping us elevate our service options with a route that will be especially beneficial to our business and military communities.”

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