Posted Aug 2, 2005, 2:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Houston, TX
This is good news for the business community in San Antonio! United Finally adds a flight to Washington Dulles!
San Antonio to Washington nonstop flight announced
Web Posted: 08/02/2005 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Business Writer
United Airlines announced Monday it will begin nonstop, daily roundtrip service between San Antonio and Washington Dulles International Airport on Oct. 31.
The service will be on United Express' CRJ-700 regional jet seating 70 passengers. The daily flight schedule and fares will be announced later this week, United Airlines spokesman Jeff Green said.
San Antonio economic development leaders hailed the news as a breakthrough, since a nonstop route to Washington has been a priority for the business and military communities since the 1990s.
"A nonstop to Washington, D.C., has been one of the highest transportation destination travel issues for literally a decade or more," said Joe Krier, president of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
"Our members have repeatedly urged us to work on getting a nonstop to Washington, so the United Express announcement to Dulles is great news. We certainly will encourage the business community to take advantage of it, and we hope it is a great success," Krier said.
Green said the route was selected because of the company's market research. "We see a demand," Green said.
Krier said demand for the San Antonio-Washington nonstop flight will come from three categories.
Many military officials often travel on business to Washington but cannot travel on military aircraft. Numerous San Antonio businesses contract with the federal government and must fly to Washington often, and many of the national associations that hold conventions have headquarters in the Washington area.
A nonstop flight to Washington could lead to more meeting planners to schedule more conventions in San Antonio, not only because the association staffs will like the flight arrangements better but more speakers from Washington could be added to convention agendas, said Marco Barros, executive director of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council.
"The city Convention & Visitors Bureau will send e-mails to meeting planners to notify them of this new flight," Barros said. "They basically need six months to one year in advance. The sooner the better."
Krier said his chamber will work immediately with United to assure the flight's success.
"The first thing we'll do is get United's guy down here and get more information," Krier said. "We need to know what level of support is needed and what the test period is. Can we get a plane (eventually) with first-class service? Competitors will watch this route to see how well this does."
Green wouldn't speculate on that. "We constantly review our schedules and routes to make sure we're operating at the proper level of demand, but I cannot predict anything about future service," he said.
Barros said the more the San Antonio's business community supports the flight, the more airlines will support it with more flights and bigger aircraft. "We'll need passenger loads of 80 to 85 percent capacity on this first flight to start," he said.
According to United Airlines' Internet site, airline miles accumulated on United Express flights count toward United's Mileage Plus frequent flier program.
Krier said the chamber's long-term goal will be to get a flight into Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport, which is across the Potomac River from the capital city. Dulles airport is a little more than 20 miles west of Washington, D.C., near Reston, Va.
But Krier acknowledged that the Reagan airport's perimeter rule, which prohibits flights longer than 1,250 miles, remains a challenge. San Antonio is 1,381 miles away.