Air Canada joins race for beyond-perimeter slot exemptions at DCA

Washington DC
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Air Canada has joined three other airlines applying for a total of eight new slots from Washington National airport to destinations beyond a decades-old 2,012km (1,250mi) perimeter.

The Star Alliance carrier has applied for one take-off and one landing slot to launch daily service between Washington, DC, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) must choose between four airlines that have applied for a total of 12 slots, or four more than the number allowed under legislation signed into law on 14 February.

Besides Air Canada's application, the FAA also received applications by Virgin America to fly to San Francisco, JetBlue to launch service to Austin and San Juan and Alaska Airlines to fly to San Diego and Portland, Oregon.

Each of the carriers qualifies to apply for the eight slots as a "limited or non-incumbent carrier", which excludes only American, Delta, United-Continental and US Airways.

Air Canada is the only non-US-based carrier to submit an application before the 12 March deadline.

Air Canada notes in its filing that Vancouver is currently not served on a nonstop route from Washington National or Washington Dulles. It plans to operate a 120-seat Airbus A319 on the route, with 14 business class seats and 106 in economy.

Air Canada says it has struggled to expand its presence at Washington National since it arrived at the airport in 1995. The beyond-perimeter rule prevented Air Canada from expanding nonstop routes beyond current service to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, the carrier says in the filing.

But the legislation authorising the new exemptions specifically allows the FAA to consider applications from Canadian airlines, Air Canada says.

Indeed, the 2012 modernisation and reform act of the US Federal Aviation Administration allows the DOT to "consider applications from foreign air carriers that are certificated by the government of Canada".