Starting in July, travelers from Augusta will have a direct flight to the nation’s capital.
US Airways announced Wednesday that it will begin its new once-daily flight from Augusta Regional Airport to Reagan National Airport on July 11.
Diane Johnston, the marketing director for the Augusta airport, said the flight would target business travel from officials with Fort Gordon, Savannah River Site, National Security Agency and Georgia Health Sciences University. Because of the concentration of federal jobs in the area, Washington has been one of the top destinations for Augusta travelers.
Jim Giusti, a U.S. Department of Energy spokesman at SRS, said direct flights would be useful for officials who make trips to Washington a dozen times a year.
“A lot of us fly from Augusta to Charlotte and up to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “So a direct flight would be really nice. It would save us a couple of hours at least.”
Between the site and its contractors, there can be dozens of trips to Washington in a given month, he said.
Giusti said a lot of SRS officials who use Columbia Metropolitan Airport’s direct flight to Washington might choose to fly from Augusta instead.
“That’s the kind of traffic that the airlines want to see,” Johnston said. “It is business traffic, not leisure where the fares are typically lower. The military, when they’ve got to go, they’ve got to go.”
Johnston said she’s inquired about other destinations with US Airways for years but was told that the traffic wasn’t at the needed level.
In 2011, US Airways Express had 192,692 passengers from Augusta to Charlotte, N.C. That’s up from 177,735 passengers in 2010.
The flight will originate in Washington at 4:20 p.m., land in Augusta at 6:07 p.m. and then depart at 6:37 p.m., landing at Reagan at 8:17 p.m.
“I’m sure they believe that they will pick up some of the Delta traffic that’s going to Washington,” Johnston said.
US Airways Express partner Air Wisconsin will operate the service to Augusta on a 50-seat Canadair regional jet.
“US Airways will have a total of 22 new routes from Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National beginning this spring and summer. Our growing presence at Reagan National Airport highlights our commitment to connect small, medium and large communities to the nation’s capital,” said Andrew Nocella, US Airways’ senior vice president of marketing and planning.
On Wednesday, the airline also announced new routes from Reagan to San Diego, Minneapolis, Montreal, Toronto and Fayetteville, Ark.
The flights are the final phase in the airline’s plan to focus on its core service areas of Washington, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte. After the flights begin, 99 percent of the airline’s available seat miles will operate to or from those core service areas.
“This new Washington service is a strong testament to the community support which has driven passenger growth at our airport,” said Jay Forrester, the Augusta Aviation chairman. “It just reinforces that as travelers from this region continue to fly from Augusta, carriers will respond by providing more options with competitively priced fares.”
Johnston said the flight will not add staff at the airport.