American Airlines adds 2 Washington routes as new DCA concourse nears completion

Mar 9, 2021

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American Airlines is busy tweaking its Washington flying.

The Fort Worth-based carrier will add two new flights from Washington National (DCA) as it looks to capture leisure-focused travelers looking for an outdoor-friendly escape.

The carrier confirmed to TPG that it’s launching new flights from DCA to Asheville, North Carolina (AVL), and Orlando/Melbourne, Florida (MLB). The former begins on June 3 and runs through Sept. 7 and will be flown daily by American Eagle partner PSA Airlines on a 76-seat CRJ-900.

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Service to MLB technically represents a route resumption for the carrier. American last flew the 769-mile flight in September 2019, according to Cirium schedules.

PSA Airlines will fly once-weekly flights from DCA to MLB on Saturdays from June 5 through Sept. 4. with the CRJ-900, outfitted with 12 first-class recliners and 64 coach seats.

MLB service complements AA’s existing service to Orlando’s primary airport, MCO. Cirium schedules show that American plans four daily flights in each direction between DCA and MCO from May 2021 through the end of the year, all operated by mainline aircraft.

Both Asheville and Melbourne present flyers with a host of socially distant activities.

While the Orlando/Melbourne airport is a considerable distance from Orlando’s famed theme parks, it’s located on central Florida’s Space Coast, within an earshot of beaches and golf courses. Asheville is popular for the Biltmore Estate, a vibrant arts scene, nearby hiking and nature walks. It’s one of the primary airports for those looking to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

With demand for business routes, like DCA to New York or Boston, down significantly during the pandemic, American is working to capture business from pandemic-weary travelers looking for a vacation.

In addition to pivoting flying to leisure-focused destinations, the DCA boost is perfectly timed with the airport’s new concourse that’s slated for a soft opening in April. The new 14-gate terminal will replace the universally-hated Gate 35X, which previously served as a bus stand for small regional jets.

American’s regional flights will shift to the new concourse once it opens, and the new DCA flights are timed perfectly with the first major milestone in the airport’s $1 billion Project Journey capital improvement program. (Amex will also open a brand-new Centurion Lounge once the project’s completed.)

It wasn’t immediately clear which slots American plans to use for the new DCA flights, but the carrier’s reduced pandemic schedules likely make it easy to shift slots around.

Related: Take a peek inside American’s new concourse at its Washington D.C. hub

Of the Big 3 U.S. airlines, American has been one of the fastest in boosting leisure-focused flights, including launching new service to two new cities: Eureka, California (ACV) and Idaho Falls, Idaho (IDA).

Over the weekend, the carrier added new summer frequencies to airports in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, from four major hubs — Charlotte (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA).

This joins recently launched flights from Phoenix to the carrier’s 27th destination in Mexico, Culiacan (CUL), as well as flights from Austin (AUS) to Orlando (MCO).

Featured photo by PlanespotterA320/Wikimedia Commons

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