Alaska Airlines to start flying to D.C. airport again

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Alaska Airlines has gotten clearance to resume nonstop flights between Seattle and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C..

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced Thursday that Alaska would be among a dozen airlines allowed back at Reagan in the second phase of its reopening. The flights were halted by the terrorist attacks last month.

Jack Walsh, Alaska Airlines spokesman in Seattle, said the airline hasn't decided when flights will resume to Reagan National. Oct. 26 will be the earliest, he said.

''There's a lot of logistics to be taken care of,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The airport, located a few miles south of downtown Washington, was shut down after a hijacked plane struck the nearby Pentagon on Sept. 11. The attack occurred a week after Alaska Airlines inaugurated its nonstop service from Seattle.

When Alaska flights resume, they will follow the same route and timing as those in September had followed. Jets will take off in Anchorage in the morning, fly through Seattle to Washington and then return to Anchorage in the evening.

However, to comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules, Alaska will fly 737-700s rather than the larger 737-900s, Walsh said.

The Department of Transportation reopened Reagan National by allowing six airlines to start limited service to eight regional hubs on Oct. 4.

Alaska was not among those six companies.

The airline resumed alternate service to the Washington area with flights to Dulles International Airport, 25 miles east of the city, on Oct. 8.

Mineta's decision will expand the number of nonstop connections from other cities to Reagan National to 26.

The expanded operations come with heightened security precautions under the direction of the FAA, the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, and other law enforcement agencies.

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