Southwest Airlines plans to add a year-round daily nonstop flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport this summer, officials said, opening new options for Sacramento fliers for mid-Atlantic coast connections.
It’s the third recent service expansion for the airline at Sacramento International Airport, a sign that local business and leisure travel continues its recovery from the recession.
Southwest will launch Sunday through Friday 6 a.m. flights on Aug. 7. A Saturday flight likely will have a different departure time. The airline will operate daily 1:10 p.m. return flights.
Mark Haneke, Sacramento airport manager of air service development, said the flights fill one of the airport’s biggest service needs. “Baltimore was one of the target routes at the top of our list.”
United Airlines offers service from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. 10 months of the year. The planned new service will expand options for travelers between the two capital cities, and fill the two-month winter gap when United doesn’t fly to D.C.
Both the Amtrak and Acela Express high-speed trains have stations at the airport outside of Baltimore, Haneke said. “You can hop on Acela and be in downtown Washington, D.C., within 30 minutes. You can be at Capitol Hill by 4 p.m that same day.”
Southwest is expected to announce initial fares Thursday morning. Airline executives said they added the route after several talks with Haneke and other Sacramento executives. Haneke hosted top Southwest executives on a tour of Sacramento last fall, visiting Old Sacramento and the new downtown arena area. He made the argument that Sacramento is on a roll economically.
“You don’t always have airports helping you out so much building a business case,” Southwest’s Mike Sikes said. “It’s been a good partnership with those guys.”
Sacramento Rep. Doris Matsui, who has lobbied for more air service between Sacramento and Washington, cheered the announcement. “This is good news for my constituents because it gives them options as they travel from California’s great capital city to the Washington, D.C., capital region,” Matsui said in an email to The Sacramento Bee.
Southwest, Sacramento’s largest air carrier, recently added flights to Dallas and Boise. JetBlue has recently added service to Boston; Aeromexico to Mexico City; and Delta to Seattle.