United Airlines Working Behind The Scenes To Stop Competition For Washington Dulles Flights

Flights from Washington’s National airport are limited to 1,250 miles unless they are one of a handful of exception flights provided for in legislation and handed out by the Department of Transportation.

A new lobbying effort by Delta to expand the 20 ‘beyond perimeter’ roundtrips a day at the airport. They don’t want to eliminate the rule, adopted in part to protect the growth of Washington Dulles for long distance flying before it had yet developed on its own, because that would help American Airlines too much – American has a majority of takeoffs and landings at the slot-controlled airport.

A beyond perimeter flight is valuable. Southwest Airlines, for instance, has the only legally-permitted flight between National airport and Austin. No other airline is allowed to compete on that route. Other options either involve connections or going to Dulles.

Other goals of the perimeter rule were limiting congestion (longer flights might mean larger planes) and limiting noise. But the airport can’t regularly handle aircraft larger than a Boeing 757 anyway due to the length of its main runway and noise concerns are much less of an issue with more modern aircraft than when rules were put in place 57 years ago.

United Airlines has a major operation at Washington Dulles and benefits from the perimeter rule because their long-distance flights don’t have competition at closer-in National airport. Perhaps the major reason that the perimeter rule hasn’t been displaced is that United Airlines consistently lobbies for it to remain. And United confirms they will oppose this latest effort.

It’s expected, but United Airlines confirmed that it opposes efforts from a new coalition that includes Delta Air Lines to increase the number of long-haul flights out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as part of this year’s FAA bill.

I tweeted that I was shocked.. shocked (!)… that United didn’t want to give up government protection from competition for its flights. The best argument in favor of United, though, is that they’ve built up Dulles relying on this protection and either should be allowed to keep it – or paid compensation for losing it. But this, too, is misguided.

  • Changes in the perimeter rule are foreseeable indeed there have been changes to the perimeter rule that predate United’s building a hub at Dulles. From 1966 to 1980 the perimeter at National was 650 miles. Then from 1981 to 1986 it was 1000 miles, before becoming 1250 miles. United designated Dulles as a hub in May 1986.

    Beyond-perimeter flights have been added multiple times in the past as well. Efforts to relax the perimeter rule have been foreseeable, and have been foreseen by United. For instance, they took credit for killing an effort to expand the perimeter to 1,475 miles seven years ago.

  • United is already being paid to keep a hub at Dulles which has received over $300 million in passenger fees over 10 years transferred from National airport in order to keep the airline’s costs low so that it doesn’t leave.

  • There is no property right in government protection rules change, the existence of legislation doesn’t bind future Congresses, and relying on government protection entails the risk of losing that protection. It’s a risk incurred by every cronyist company, all the time.

The issue here is what is best for passengers, not United’s shareholders which received nearly $10 billion in taxpayer cash already during the pandemic. United’s efforts at Washington Dulles have been subsidized for nearly 40 years. That’s too long rather than a justification for more subsidies at the expense of passenger choices and competition.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. While DCA is larger than it was when I was a kid (when it was like an old bus station and mainly housed regional flights from the likes of Eastern and Allegheny), it’s footprint isn’t changing and it’s capacity will forever be limited. So, this is much ado about nothing. You’re not going to have widebody flights out of DCA; narrowbody flights will still be weight limited from performing extra long missions…..and IAD will still be the go-to airport when your destination from the DMV is anywhere far off.

    With the new rail connections to the city, IAD is that much easier to get to from DC. And it’s location is no longer “in the middle of nowhere”. No, it’s now in the middle of one of the highest income regions in the country.

  2. Gary is right on this one. Limiting consumer choice and airline use of their assets is not compatible w the free market.
    If Dulles is not economically viable on a standalone basis, then operating costs to airlines need to increase. Perimeter restrictions are inherently anti competitive and anti consumer.

    Delta could well win both this and the Haneda case and United could be the biggest loser w American in between

  3. @AngryFlier If the change was much ado about nothing and didn’t unlock significant economic value for the airlines at DCA, you wouldn’t have DL advocating for it and UA fighting it.

  4. Genuinely curious, what would be your ideal scenario if the perimeter rule was removed along with the subsidy to United? Do you think IAD will be torn down if this happens or do you think it can survive without the UA hub?

  5. @hammer – Here’s a couple of things.

    * If perimeter rule was lifted *and slot restrictions remain in place* then DCA gets more longer flights, and fewer shorter ones. That benefits Dulles flying!

    * DCA lacks a customs facility, all international flights to destinations without US preclearance need Dulles (or Baltimore)

    * DCA’s longest runway is less than 7,000 feet and can’t support fully loaded widebodies

    IAD does not get put out to pasture by any means! But IAD’s midfield concourse which was supposed to be temporary in the mid-80s SHOULD BE torn down and was always meant to be!!

  6. @Gary : must be soooo convenient for you to show outrage at UA lobbying for their own best interests (which is something any corporation oughta be doing),

    while simultaneously having no qualms about Delta benefiting immensely from, in your words,“government protected” trans-con ops out of JFK

  7. @HenryLAX genuinely not following you here, what do I have no qualms about? I’m certainly no supporter of slot controls as government grants of a property right to an airline. At a minimum these should be auctions for a defined period of time (not given free in perpetuity). Better still would be to eliminate slot restrictions and move to a regime of congestion pricing.

  8. Henry,
    JFK, like EWR, is designed and designated for longhaul international operations. Delta uses LGA as it is intended to be used.
    As at DCA, if Delta petitions for slot restrictions and/or perimeter restrictions at LGA to be lifted, it will be for all airlines.
    I’m not sure why you can’t see the difference between arguing for something that benefits a single airline vs. something that benefits everyone. United is arguing for itself; Delta is arguing for the industry and consumer.

  9. @Gary Leff Thank you for the response! While I believe your idea that Dulles would benefit from transcon flights moving to DCA works in theory since the smaller short-haul markets would move to the more connection-rich IAD, in practice I feel like those short haul DCA flights would lose service entirely. Which would mean that DCA becomes more congested and IAD becomes more underutilized, something that I believe MWAA wants to avoid. As for the midfield concourse, I’m just glad that they’re finally starting work on the replacement for the “temporary” midfield concourse.

  10. @Hammer – I don’t suggest Dulles benefits on net, just that it hardly disappears! MWAA may not like it but not sure that ought to be the standard.

  11. Gary,

    You’re missing the point. The perimeter restrictions are not designed to protect IAD and UA, they are designed to protect small, close in local markets at DCA.

    In your prefect laissez-faire world, perimeter rules and slots would go away, as well as the artificial caps on certain exempted beyond markets. The fear, is most airlines (especially AA) will begin dropping frequency to perimeter markets at DCA and start hourly runs to the West Coast, etc. So instead of 1 to 2 flights a day from DCA to LAX/SFO/SAN/PHX/SEA etc., by 1 or 2 carriers, it will be 5 or 6 carriers running significantly more frequency in those markets.

    Is that a problem? Depends on who you ask. DCA is controlled by Congress, and those crooks are loath to change their special perks and privileges. Don’t touch their flights home to their districts.

    Would the local community? Hard to say. Depends on what happens to the flights/frequency.

    For United, the airport fees at IAD are way too high to support a large hub operations. The operational costs are just too prohibitive. There have been many articles over the years regarding facility charges at IAD, and why that prevented the construction of new C/D Concourses.

  12. @Gary Leff I guess that’s the issue with being a nationally controlled airport vs a locally controlled one. What’s good for the DC area (keeping the perimeter in place so that DCA isn’t congested in terms of airspace, runway capacity, and passengers while IAD has more nonstop flights) may not be in the best interest nationally.

  13. In Chicago, MDW and ORD co-exist just fine. One has not destroyed the other as a viable commercial airport.

    Despite what the fear mongers said, WN starting DAL-LGA did not drive AA to drop that route. AA still has a significant operation on DFW-LGA.

    IAD/DCA would both see little change should the perimeter rule be eliminated. DCA is ramp and gate constrained. Airport is unable to be expanded in any significant way. There is only so much that could be added.

    Contrary to what Gary has said, the main runway is not the issue for widebodies at DCA. It is the ramp and gate space. The main runway at OGG is shorter than DCA but OGG has widebody flights to DFW, LAX, DEN, EWR. Eastbound to Europe would be no problem for widebodies at DCA runway wise.

    I dont think government mandated congestion pricing is needed either. The market will decide. Passengers will either not fly on airlines with significant delays, avoid congested airports, put up with the delays as the cost to fly to congested airports or simply not fly at all. Airlines will initially bitch, moan and complain but the cost and effects of delays will force them to make difficult operational and business decisions. Airline travel does not need the government deciding this.

  14. Southwest runs a hub up I-95 at BWI. Curious how they are lobbying for changes at DCA.

  15. NOVA is growing towards IAD, so more Washington flyers are finding that IAD works about as well as DCA. The thing is, though, that DCA is a much nicer airport and easier to navigate. If United wants to compete with DCA, they should replace their old C/D terminal, which is a crowded dump and flyers hate it (except for the Polaris lounge, which I think UA built partly so that their international business class flyers did not have to wait in dumpy UA lounges, especially after they have seen the AF, Virgin and BA lounges in A/B). I know the temporary midfield terminal is on the drawing boards, but it is still going to be a long time before C/D is improved to a level to compete with DCA, and that is by UA’s choice.

  16. The first point I’d like to make is that the First Amendment protects lobbying. It reads in part, “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” To that point, it’s obvious that **both** Delta and United are lobbying Congress – which is their constitutional right. The only difference between a citizen and a paid lobbyist is that the latter represents others and is usually paid to do so.

    To the meat of the argument: I seriously doubt that the perimeter rules at either DCA or LGA will go away anytime soon. But I do have some thoughts on how they could be modified at DCA.

    I would propose extending the perimeter to 1615 miles. That would bring Denver, Austin, and San Juan into the perimeter. It would also bring in Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, at 1610 miles. The airlines that currently have beyond perimeter exemptions that would be brought in under the new rule, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, and United, would be able to keep them and use them elsewhere. JetBlue might fly to Los Angeles, Southwest to Las Vegas, Frontier to Sacramento, Reno, and Phoenix, and United to San Francisco. Another thought comes to mind. Maybe United fought the expansion of the perimeter to 1475 miles because Denver is 1476 miles from DCA.

    To restate my original point: When did “petition(ing) the government for a redress of grievances” become a crime?

  17. You just complained about small cities losing air service. There are only so many take off and landings possible at DCA. So if Delta is allowed to fly longer distances, small cities will suffer. Isn’t that what you are against?

  18. The perimeters at DCA and LGA will be relaxed but not dropped. Adding a different arbitrary mileage doesn’t solve the problem. The majority of the US that can’t get nonstop service to those two airports are on the west coast. The best solution is to allow a certain percentage of slots to be converted. Small cities will not lose service but every city will see larger planes and fewer flights per city for the same number of total flights.
    The proposal to relax the DCA perimeter is pro consumer and will pass

  19. On both the Haneda and DCA issues, AA and DL will be on one side of the issue together and UA will be on the other

  20. I love that DL is doing AA’s dirty work since the change will benefit AA more then anyone else. UA knows that NO ONE WANTS TO GO TO DULLES! I envision XLR to London from DCA in the future.

  21. @sunviking82 – ” I envision XLR to London from DCA in the future.” DCA has no customs facility and can only support international flights from destinations with US immigration preclearance.

  22. sunviking,
    AA and DL will both benefit – along w/ WN and B6.
    The only loser if anything goes through at DCA or w/ HND swapping slots is likely to be United.
    Building coalitions is what makes sense.
    When you ask for something that only benefits yourself – as UA is doing – you have much less likelihood of success than if you ask for something that benefits multiple parties – which is what Delta is doing.
    And Delta’s proposals WILL benefit the public as well.

  23. Tim Dunn,
    I fully support Delta’s request for flexibility with its Haneda slots. ANA and JAL have the ability to change routes to react to market conditions, and their JV partners benefit from that flexibility. Delta should have the same level of flexibility with its routes.

  24. I’m inclined to believe the best solution at DCA is to abolish the Perimeter Rule and let airlines fly to the places DCA customers most want to go. But since DCA sits in the middle of The Swamp, the decision will certainly be political, and not practical. Not sure how these politics play out.

  25. As a frequent user of DCA and IAD, I am totally disgusted by slot restrictions and perimeter restrictions. I feel violated by some Hill intern telling me what airport and what airline is good for the country and okay for me. Silly me, I thought that the physical reason shortest runways in the country was the reason for DCA’s service profile, not some gerrymandering slot and perimeter restriction made up by some smarter-than-you Hill intern. DCA just completed construction of a huge TSA security zone, and DCA has regular service to a foreign country (Canada), so I would be perfectly happy to fly out of DCA to SFO or LON, on any 5th Freedom flight I choose, or even UA for old times’ sake. For me, bigger is better, and I regularly fly DL’s A320’s out of DCA; a lot of routes out of DCA have smaller aircraft and I avoid them. The hour and a half Metro out to IAD only is worth it if I need to get onto my preferred B777 or A380, or I guess A350, now. I also am disgusted at how DL and UA are financing their regulatory endeavors with my taxpayer pandemic dollars. I also am disgusted by the Japan routes, but that’s another lengthy and historical story.

    God help us all. God bless this blog which uniquely of all important travel blogs brings to daylight these crafty crony capitalism corruption on the Hill and at our airports.

  26. Tim,
    Even though we often see things differently, you often raise salient points.

  27. Delta and United could always do a slot swap as a way for both airlines to get some of what they want. United could trade a few of its DCA slots for some at JFK.

  28. That might be a logical solution Ghost. Delta did pick up UA’s JFK slots when UA left JFK. It still comes down to the fact that United is the only one that is opposed to relaxation of DCA perimeter restrictions

  29. People and companies never want the government tell them what they can and can’t do, until they want the government to tell other people what they can and cannot do.

  30. Gary, you missed the best argument against UA. UA does not have a secure interest in Dulles. After all, their IAD operation is to this day still housed in a temporary terminal.

  31. @Wesley

    The runway at OGG that commercial planes use today is about 8500ft; definitely longer than the 7100ft runway DCA has. This was so planes like the 777 could operate safely on full loads when flying to Dallas or Chicago.

    You may not know this, but planes bound for Europe are very heavy, especially during the warm months. A 7000ft runway is far too short for even a 757 going to Dublin to takeoff; so while ramp space is a big factor, runway length is also a huge factor that decides what aircraft an airline can use at an airport. A prominent example even today, A380s are quite limited in what airports they can fly to due to their huge size and weight. That time a 787 landed at DCA was only for show; they’ve always operated from IAD or BWI since then.

  32. Interesting takes on an issue that arises when it’s time for Congress to decide upon FAA reauthorization. I didn’t recall from memory all of facts as they pertain to certain points made herein.

    A couple of points of clarification:
    (1) When a governing body (such as an ‘airport authority’) manages a local system comprising of airports (plural), FAA rules permit the transfer of funds from one airport to another, or between airports. This is typically done for the operations & maintenance expenses incurred at the recipient airport.

    (2) The funds transfers to benefit IAD is for O & M expense coverage over and above the coverage IAD generates through its schedule of fees. The express purpose of the arrangement is why FAA obligated MWAA to limit the annual amounts and duration of this fiscal plan.

    (3) Though UA, due to the size of its IAD operation, is the biggest benefactor of the current arrangement, to be clear, all IAD air carrier operators benefit from the arrangement. To classify the transfers as “subsidy to UA” is a mischaracterization as direct subsidy would be in contravention of FAA rules.

    As to the merits of the proposal, I presently trend neutral. I think the Delta position is typical PR speak. Really, there’s nothing stopping DL from linking SAT-IAD if being pro-consumer & injecting competition are truly representative of DL’s corporate desires.

    The issue that I’m not clear about – and to my knowledge, yet to be addressed by the lobbying group – is where do the exemption slots come from? A sizable number of slots are tied to federal legislation (AIR-21 and VISION 100) and exemptions for those would require Congressional action. Certainly possible, but perhaps a heavy lift for 2024.

    Previous exemption years of 2000 and 2003 saw the creation of additional High Density rule slots to accommodate the legislation. As a result of a previous FAA Airfield Capacity Analysis, airfield capacity at DCA was deemed sufficient for the new activity. The 2012 exemption resulted in a mix of new slots and High Density rule within perimeter slots conversions.

    In summary, there are three ways to obtain additional exemptions: (1) Creation of additional slots, OR, conversion of existing slots that conform to High Density rule usage, (2) Amending the legislation-specific language for slots under AIR-21, (3) Amending legislation-specific language for slots under VISION 100.

    To further clarify High Density rule slot policy – Commuter aircraft (defined as 76 seats, or less) can utilize mainline aircraft/large jet slots. However, the converse – large jets using commuter slots – IS NOT permitted. However, the 2012 action to further expand beyond perimeter slots was made possible by an exemption whereby large jets were permitted use of commuter slots.

    In reviewing the latest publicly available DCA slot report, DL and affiliates comprise the second largest number of slot holdings. Most importantly, DL is the only carrier – beside AA – that has slots “across the spectrum” (both large jet & commuter). Theoretically, further expansion of beyond perimeter slots would be of benefit to all users. However, exact benefit will depend on (a) the specific verbiage of any legislation addressing slot expansion, and (b) if incumbent air carriers have the apropos the slot holdings to participate. It’s easy to imagine DL willingly parting with a portion of their 20 commuter slots in order to go beyond perimeter.

    It appears DL is betting on a repeat of 2012 precedent when, as part of the previous authorization, the slot revision permitted the swap of within perimeter to beyond perimeter slots.

  33. “Though UA, due to the size of its IAD operation, is the biggest benefactor of the current arrangement, to be clear, all IAD air carrier operators benefit from the arrangement. To classify the transfers as “subsidy to UA” is a mischaracterization as direct subsidy would be in contravention of FAA rules.”

    This arrangement was made specifically to retain United as a hub carrier at Dulles.

  34. @Gary Leff – “This arrangement was made specifically to retain United as a hub carrier at Dulles.”

    Yes, true – I’m not suggesting otherwise. But, the arrangement has to adhere to guidelines. That said, employment of verbiage indicating “indirect subsidy” would’ve been more nuanced, yet accurate.

    There are specific rules, known as ‘Airport Grant Assurances’ (airports / airport authorities that receive / have received federal monies for airport development under the Airport Improvement Program), whereby federally obligated airports/systems cannot (a) practice forms of economic discrimination to the benefit of certain aeronautical users (Grant Assurance #22), and (b) cannot provide an “exclusive right” (Grant Assurance #23) whereby, among other things, a specific aeronautical user (i.e., United) is able to provide service at less cost versus similar aeronautical users (i.e., competing IAD air carriers).

    Since IAD is a federally obligated airport, Grant Assurance #24 – which addresses economic self sustainment – also normally applies. However, MWAA (and, likely, the State of Virginia, since both DCA & IAD are part of the state airport system) made a convincing enough argument to the FAA, likely using clichéd terms such as “economic development” and “employment creation/retention”, that FAA agreed to the plan, but with mutually agreed upon limits.

    Here are a couple of relevant links that distill the formal agreement(s): https://www.mwaa.com/news/airports-authority-and-united-airlines-execute-long-term-lease-dulles-international


    The MWAA link contains a hyperlink to the actual agreement should that be of interest. Though all of the press releases focus the MWAA-United relationship, the pre-2016 agreement (The Use and Lease Agreement) was extended to, “….govern significant operational and financial aspects of airlines’ use of airport facilities, as well as business arrangements between airlines and the airport.”

  35. It’s a subsidy to United both in intent and result. That it reduces charges to United rather than cutting them a check is immaterial.

  36. @Gary Leff – “It’s a subsidy to United both in intent and result. That it reduces charges to United rather than cutting them a check is immaterial.”

    Sorry, it is a material (read, legal) nuance and more than semantics.

    – If you wish to classify any portion of the agreement as “subsidy”, then that applies to shifting DCA revenues to IAD. A permitted exercise per FAA as that revenue is being shifted within the MWAA system of airports.
    – As an aeronautical user, United cannot singularly receive monies directly from MWAA for the offset of operational expenses at IAD. Such action is exclusionary and economically discriminatory per FAA rules governing the Airport Improvement Program.
    – The final result, *The IAD Use and Lease Agreement*, pertains to all IAD air carriers. Yes, United received the greatest benefit because of scale at IAD. But, ALL carriers received that same benefit – legally defined as an abatement – and continuance of the pre 2016 rates & charges at IAD.

    If there was any hint of true subsidy, the other IAD air carriers have a significant avenue of legal recourse through the FAA if MWAA were found in violation.

    I’m not attempting to be argumentative with you, so I won’t belabor the issue any further. Please share any other thoughts you may have. In the meantime, I thank you for the opportunity of this discussion.

  37. @aaway – that the subsidy to United is done in a manner permitted by FAA is rather beside the point, if it wasn’t done in such a manner it wouldn’t exist!

    “As an aeronautical user, United cannot singularly receive monies directly from MWAA for the offset of operational expenses at IAD.”

    Of course. But they are the main tenant, and this shift of funds would not happen *but for* efforts to retain United as a hub carrier at the airport. It is being done for United, to reduce United’s costs. So yes it is mere semantics to call it something other than a subsidy intended to benefit and which actually does benefit United.

  38. Fact is that Dulles and Reagan airports are given priority status over the people choice that being by BWI. The federal government owns Both Dulles and Regan airports. BWI is owned by the state of Maryland. BWI is the busiest of the three Capitol area airports even though the Feds give route approvals to Dulles for international routes over BWI. Now Regan has had enough of United and Dulles airport as well. BWI has been fighting this unfair garbage for years. It’s way past time to allow real competition and stop giving favor to Dulles and United and stop politicians getting their private parking spots at Regan.

  39. Why is it Dulles gets 90 percent of the international routes when BWI is the busiest of the three Capitol airports? Washington airport authority is only a name Dulles and Regan are still owned by the federal government. Maryland owns BWI. The Feds give the final approval for international routes. Everyone knows Dulles is least favorite of the Capitol airports further away than people want to go. Be fare and divide equally the international flights between Dulles BWI and Regan if Regan can handle the large planes. Mean time BWI can handle all planes and it’s time to grant those slots to airlines and airports other then United and Dulles.

  40. Will, there’s a few things you didn’t take into account when writing that.

    For one, despite having Washington in the name, BWI primarily serves Baltimore, which is just 10 miles north. DC is 32 miles southwest, further away than IAD is to DC (26 miles).
    IAD is actually easier to get to because RT267 is hardly crowded and there’s direct rail service there, whereas traveling on the BW parkway can be a huge headache; especially coming from DC.

    Even on travel itineraries BWI is listed as Baltimore whereas IAD and DCA are listed as Washington-Dulles or Washington-Reagan respectively if traveling domestically. If coming from outside the U.S., Washington DC is the only one listed, and it refers specifically to IAD.

    Another thing with BWI is that it’s only that busy because southwest has a hub there. Most flights going out of that airport are on narrowbody aircraft; courtesy of WN mostly, but other US airlines only use small planes there. Wide body traffic only makes up a small percentage of total flights, most of them being freight from Amazon and FedEx.

    Lastly, and you probably don’t live around DC to know this, but BWI is only half the size of IAD. And DCA is even smaller. BWI has 2 main runways that both intersect, the longest being around 10000ft. IAD has 4 runways with 2 being 12000ft, and 3 are parallel to facilitate multiple arrivals.

    BWI also only has a small number of international gates and the CBP operation there isn’t as big as it is at IAD, and the biggest plane BWI can handle is a 747-400. Don’t know where you believed that airport can handle any aircraft, cause it certainly cannot handle A380s or 747-8s. And since DCA only has one 7000ft runway, what makes you think it can handle anything bigger than a 757?
    Heck, British only flies once a day from BWI with a 787 but flies twice daily out of IAD with 777s and sometimes A380s in the summer.

    To sum it up, it’s not because of some political conspiracy to restrict flights at BWI; the airport is too small to handle the operation that goes on at IAD and doesn’t have the capacity to facilitate multiple wide body aircraft that aren’t freighters.

  41. @ Bill/William Donahue.

    Any carrier can fly international routes out of BWI. Some destinations would require govt approval, but most are not. They choose not to. Once a carrier sets up a hub (IAD/ATL/CLT), for economic reasons, they will provide more flights from that hub. BWI is a hub for SW, so they would be the most likely carrier to add international flights originating there. The federal government doesn’t divide them up.

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