Lots of interesting news coming out of hometown carrier Virgin America this week…
First, the carrier has announced new flights to Portland, Oregon starting on June 5. Introductory fares are just $198 round trip including all taxes and fees– not bad! However, there’s just a single daily roundtrip for now.
Second, Virgin (along with nearly every other low-fare carrier) has filed with the US Dept of Transportation for rights to fly into Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)– the district’s preferred, close-in airport compared to Washington-Dulles which is located in the far northern suburbs in Virginia at least 45 minutes by cab or car from the city.
The carrier is asking for the right to serve SFO-DCA with two daily nonstops in each direction. Flights would depart SFO at 8:25 am and 5:15 pm, and return from DCA at 9:05 am and 1:35 pm.
In a Virgin America press release, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom expressed support for Virgin, saying, “California and the Bay Area in particular have suffered with no nonstop DCA flights – and one of the most populous and economically important regions in the nation deserves better.” (If Virgin gets the right to fly right into the beating heart of the American political scene, Newsom will likely be one of its best customers.)
Other politicos and heavy hitters from organizations such as The Bay Area Council, San Francisco Travel, The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group also weighed in with their support of Virgin’s efforts to score the right to serve DCA nonstop from SFO.
As I wrote in TravelSkills last week, United Airlines is now selling new flights into Washington National starting this May. In order to get one of the tightly controlled landing slots at DCA, it had to dump one of its nonstops from Chicago O’Hare. (When I performed a random check for midweek roundtrips in June, United.com quoted $585 roundtrip SFO-DCA.)