UPDATE 05/21: Southwest Airlines announced it will launch new nonstop flight service between Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on Aug. 4.
Southwest Airlines is continuing to build up its operations out of Houston's William P. Hobby Airport with nonstop service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport outside of Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Southwest two slot exemptions (required for a daily round-trip flight) to operate out of Reagan that had become available when the no frills Spirit Airlines began flying from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport last September.
According to a DOT news release, Southwest beat out US Airways and JetBlue Airways with a proposal that is expected to "provide new low-fare service and enhance airline competition in the Reagan National-Houston market. Currently, United Airlines provides the only service between Reagan National and Houston, with flights to Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport."
In its application, Southwest asserted that "the average United one-way nonstop fare between DCA and IAH [was] $334, or 43% higher than average DCA fares for trips of a similar distance."Those United flights currently start at $544 round-trip.
Southwest is expected to begin flying a 143-seat Boeing 737-700 into and out of D.C. by Aug. 5, 2013.