Here are the Cities Losing Service at Washington National Because of the Government’s Requirement that American and US Airways Give Up Slots

As part of the American and US Airways settlement with the Department of Justice which allowed the two airlines to merge, the new carrier was required to divest itself of 52 “slot pairs” at Washington National airport.

Basically, US Airways wasn’t going to be allowed to get any bigger at National than it was already. So they’re giving up takeoffs and landings the size of the existing American Airlines operation there.

Washington National has slot controls, limitations on the number of flights that can operate there. Though they had to give up 52 takeoffs and landings, it’s actually just 44 flights since American was already leasing out some of their slots.

While the required slot sales aren’t final, the result of some communities losing service. We don’t have details of all of the schedule changes that will come from giving up slots at Washington National (such as flight reductions to cities that will retain service), but American announced the cities that the combined airline would no longer provide daily, year-round service to:

  • Augusta, Ga.
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
  • Islip, N.Y.
  • Jacksonville, N.C.
  • Little Rock, Ark.
  • Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Montreal
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Pensacola, Fla.
  • San Diego, Calif.
  • Savannah, Ga.
  • Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Wilmington, N.C.

It’s probably not fair to include San Diego on this list. They’ll be eliminating non-stop service there, to be sure. They are limited in the number of flights they can fly beyond the 1250 mile ‘perimeter’ from the airport. And they expect to move the San Diego flight to Los Angeles instead (giving them a second daily non-stop to L.A.).

A much smaller issue, the airline was forced to give up slots at New York’s LaGuardia as well. They’ll be ending non-stop service from there to Atlanta, Cleveland and Minneapolis. But they’ll be shifting other flying out of the airport to allow them to launch new service from New York LaGuardia to
Charlottesville, Little Rock, Roanoke, Dayton, Louisville, Wilmington,
Greensboro, Norfolk, Knoxville, and Richmond.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So, let me get this right. US was required (already) to give up a significant number of slots at LGA. DL picked up most of those.

    Here’s an example: up until several months ago, US had offered three daily flights from ROA to LGA. US was forced to relinquish those slots and DL promised ROA at least one daily non-stop. DL has now announced the cancellation of that route, but I read above that US is preparing to RE-launch ROA-LGA service?!?!

    Good grief. My head spins and spins

  2. Re LGA: Why would AA drop out of three major business markets, and endanger nyc corporate contracts, in order to serve a bunch of really minor cities?!

  3. @ Scott, I think it’s been more like several years, not months.

    Anyway, isn’t this exactly what US/AA executives said would happen back during the DOJ proceedings? Small cities would lose service, with those slots most likely to be picked up by carriers serving larger, existing markets (which remains to be seen, but seems like the safer bet)?

  4. @Mike – Parker’s history is of avoiding markets with tons of competition. LGA isn’t a hub, so flying from there to other airline hubs doesn’t make sense. How many flights between 2 non-hubs did US Airways have left? It’s the airline equivalent of Wee Willie Keller’s “hit ’em where they ain’t.”

  5. Interesting that AA decided to drop DCA-OMA but keep DCA-DSM. I’m quite happy with this decision, as DSM is my hometown, but OMA’s metro area is 50% more populous than DSM – and OMA is home to STRATCOM, Berkshire Hathaway, and the only convenient means for the Nebraska congressional delegation to travel to DC.

    However, it appears DL is taking over F9’s DCA-OMA route this June, which makes for an interesting and potentially lucrative non-hub route for DL – especially given that OMA lacks nonstop service to IAD or BWI.

    There’s also a huge opportunity here for somebody to fly from WAS to PNS/DSI/TLH – as far as I can tell, once AA pulls out, there will be zero nonstop service from the DC/Baltimore area to the Florida panhandle, except for WN’s 2x daily BWI flight from ECP. Given that the area will lose 3x daily nonstops to DCA, WN should consider expansion, and UA might even want to try a daily IAD nonstop to PNS (where UA already operates IAH/ORD flights).

  6. @Gary: I don’t buy that explanation. If LGA isn’t a hub, then why is it getting service to Roanoke, Dayton, Louisville, etc? JFK+LGA is a de facto hub for USAA (if it weren’t, it would only have flights to other hubs). There’s no argument I can see for flying to those minor cities and not the much more major ATL/MSP/CLE.

  7. That the cities on your list are “losing service” as you state in your headline is a bit sensational. Only in the last sentence before you name the cities, do you say, “cities that the combined airline would no longer provide daily, year-round service to.” That is a lot different than those cities “losing service” – other airlines provide service to some of those cities. Sure, airlines hook frequent flyers who are committed to their airline, but the reality is that not all these cities are “losing service” from DCA.

  8. glad to see the big 3 all flying TYS-NYC, now. competition very much needed for as pricey as TYS is.

  9. WN would give anything to get these DCA slots, although hopefully the FAA will spread them around to small airlines. WN is becoming the 4th member of the airline oligopoly.

    The prior US divestures at LGA to DL weren’t required, they were sold by Parker for needed cash and a few new DCA slots from DL.

  10. Any insight as to how an existing reservation on US Air for mid-April (specifically DCA-SAV) might be impacted? Will the same route be honored or are they likely to change it and route through a hub somewhere?

  11. @John E- we don’t have end dates on each route and I haven’t checked the end date for SAV, but the slot sale isn’t done yet. AA has committed to accomodate passengers. But if the non-stop flight is gone when you fly you’ll most likely be re-routed through a hub.

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