Southwest to start direct flight from OKC to D.C.

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018 By: Brian Brus Source: The Journal Record

Southwest Airlines will operate Oklahoma City’s first direct flight to Washington, D.C., this fall, Managing Director Juan Suarez said Thursday.

The new route to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, represented by the industry as DCA, will begin Nov. 4. Flights will leave Oklahoma City at 7:30 a.m. with return arrival at 8:45 p.m. Tickets are already available for purchase.

Among the factors Southwest considered were the overall economic health of the region and the businesses that are likely to be interested in the route, Suarez said. The flight is the result of new terminal slots opening at Ronald Reagan. No cities lost flights to Oklahoma City’s benefit, Suarez said.

Aside from the Oklahoma City flight, Southwest hasn’t made many other announcements about changes to its network. The company reported in April that it ended its first quarter with a fleet of 717 aircraft and has expectations to end 2018 with 752 aircraft. The company recently announced plans to serve Hawaii nonstop from four California cities.

Will Rogers spokeswoman Karen Carney said Southwest intends the Oklahoma City route to be in place for the long run, not merely a summer vacation setup. Southwest is the largest carrier at the airport with an average of 19 daily departures. The addition of Ronald Reagan brings the total number of Southwest cities served nonstop out of Oklahoma City to eight, including Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas.

City Airports Director Mark Kranenburg said he, the city Airport Trust and representatives of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber have been lobbying with Southwest for a D.C. route for a long time.

Mayor David Holt said he knows firsthand how valuable the route will be to local businesspeople and those with government interests.

“We’re a capital city, and for that reason alone we have a lot of business in Washington, D.C.,” said Holt, who was a state legislator before winning an office at City Hall this year. “This makes all the sense in the world. We also obviously are an industrial center for the energy community and health and science.

“I went to D.C. for seven years, so I know that it’s nice to have a flight to BWI (Baltimore-Washington International Airport),” he said. “But when you fly into Washington Reagan, you’re 15 minutes from the White House.”

Chamber President Roy Williams said Southwest is not responsible alone for ensuring the success of the new route.

“We will actually be doing a promotional campaign both in Oklahoma City and in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “So we will be working both ends of the rope to raise awareness. There will be a very proactive marketing campaign.”

“I don’t know of a single route that we’ve received as much enthusiasm as has been expressed over this,” Williams said. “So many of our corporate community members, our organizations and other entities travel so much to D.C., and Reagan is by far the airport of choice.”

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