SpiritAir returns to Washington National

After a two year absence, Spirit has won the right through the usual tedious political process to fly two daily roundtrips to Washington-National airport. It remains to be seen whether they will fly to Detroit or Ft. Lauderdale.

National airport, the preferred close-in airport for Washington, DC, has two levels of service limits placed on it: flights cannot exceed 1250 miles (with a few specifically-granted exceptions) and the number of flights or “slots” is strictly controlled.

The originally stated purpose of the 1250 mile limit, or “perimeter rule,” was to allow Washington-Dulles airport to build itself up as a base for long-haul flights. Ironically, by limiting the distance of flights at the close-in airport, National got more short flights and Dulles did not. So there wasn’t enough feeder traffic for long-haul flights, and the development of Dulles as a hub was hampered for a decade. The perimeter rule forced Dulles to more or less relies of the DC market for its flights instead of supplementing that traffic with connecting traffic.

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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