SAT, American Airlines to Pursue Nonstop Flight from Military City USA

Published on May 15, 2024

City of San Antonio Aviation Department         

SAN ANTONIO (May 15, 2024) — Today, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) and American Airlines announced a partnership with the goal of initiating nonstop service from San Antonio to Washington, D.C. Five new roundtrip flights at Reagan National Airport (DCA) were authorized through the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill today. Once these new slots are made available, American Airlines will submit an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation to initiate service from SAT to DCA.

“We have been working for more than a decade to give residents of America’s seventh-largest city the same access to our nation’s leaders as nearly every other major city in the country,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “I am grateful for the hard work of Senator Cruz and our entire congressional delegation and look forward to Secretary Buttigieg’s approval of American’s application to initiate nonstop service from Military City USA to DCA.”

SAT serves a regional population of more than 5.2 million people and is home to a diversified robust economy, including one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the country. Joint Base San Antonio supports 266 mission partners and employs 82,000 active-duty members and civilian employees. A nonstop flight between San Antonio and Reagan National will save the military and its partners more than 500,000 man-hours annually. Additionally, San Antonio is home to the largest concentration of intelligence and cybersecurity professionals outside of the national capital region.

“With Congress increasing the number of long-distance flights at DCA, American is thrilled to announce its intent to apply to serve San Antonio International Airport (SAT) from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA),” said American Executive Vice President of Corporate Real Estate and Chief Government Affairs Officer Nate Gatten. “San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and is the largest unserved market in Texas from DCA. This route will provide a one-stop connection option from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to SAT on our industry-leading domestic network while continuing to offer nonstop service to more than 85 destinations from DCA. We’re grateful to Senator Cruz, the San Antonio International Airport, and the city of San Antonio for their partnership to connect Military City USA to our nation's capital on American Airlines." 

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, worked with U.S. Senator and Chair of the committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to secure language for five new slots in the reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. Last week, the Senate approved the FAA bill by a bipartisan vote of 88-4. Today, the House approved the bill overwhelmingly 387 to 26. 

“I am thrilled that the City of San Antonio is now positioned to directly access our nation’s capital with a non-stop flight into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,“ Sen. Cruz said. “By working together, we overcame fierce opposition to my bipartisan provision expanding long-haul flights to Reagan National. Today’s announcement is a huge step forward for the residents of Military City USA, and I am especially proud that a company with strong Lone Star State roots and a storied history of supporting our servicemembers is choosing to invest in this route. I will be pressing the U.S. Department of Transportation to swiftly approve applications for the five long-haul flights that I successfully included in this year’s FAA reauthorization bill and look forward to being on the first direct San Antonio-Reagan National flight later this year.”

Currently, there are no direct flights from SAT to DCA, requiring San Antonio travelers to make connections through other airports or take ground transportation from Dulles International Airport or Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Washington, D.C., adding both time and costs to their itineraries. San Antonio has repeatedly been blocked in its efforts to get direct flights from DCA, putting it at a competitive disadvantage. Nonstop service by American would increase competition for Texas consumers by adding a fourth carrier flying from SAT to a third different airport in the DC/Maryland/Virginia region and providing connectivity to numerous other airports in the Northeast United States via American’s hub at DCA. Based on the number of daily passengers currently traveling each way between the two airports, DCA is one of the largest unserved markets from SAT.

Once the President signs the FAA bill into law, the U.S. Department of Transportation will have 60 days to award the five slot pairs to airlines and their proposed routes. American Airlines' sole application will be to serve SAT.

For more information about SAT’s 45 nonstop destinations, please visit the airport’s website.