Eight members of the Colorado congressional delegation sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood supporting Frontier Airlines' bid for one of eight new round-trip flights out of Washington Reagan Airport (DCA). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently reviewing applications for these flights to underserved markets outside the 1,250 mile service area for the airport.
The bipartisan letter emphasizes the significance of Colorado Springs as a hub for tourism in the state and the large military presence, which represents a high need for direct and affordable service to and from Washington, D.C. The nation's capital is the largest destination for the Colorado Springs market, and at the same time, these new flights would open additional service routes to Denver, San Diego, Portland and other destinations throughout western United States.
"'The Springs' is Colorado's second largest city and a primary access point for the Rocky Mountains and three of Colorado's top tourist destinations: the U.S. Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods. Colorado Springs is also home to over 36,000 Department of Defense personnel and five major military installations (Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and the U.S. Air Force Academy) - all of which are located within 25 miles of the Colorado Springs Airport," the members wrote in the letter.
Colorado U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and U.S. Representatives Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Diana DeGette, and Jared Polis are responding to legislation signed into law earlier this year by President Barack Obama reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration to expand the number of takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National. Frontier is not the only airline competing for this service; there are number of other cities that are competing for the eight round-trip flights that land at the airport. A decision from the Transportation Department is expected in May, and flights will likely begin in August.
Full text of the letter is included below:
Dear Secretary LaHood:
We urge the Department of Transportation to award a non-stop, round-trip flight at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to Frontier Airlines for new service to Colorado Springs (COS). This new route would be the first non-stop flight to connect these two cities, and the resulting benefits to consumers in the form of decreased flight time and increased fare competition - as well as economic benefits to both the Washington and Colorado Springs markets - make it a compelling applicant for new flights authorized by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L.112-95).
Frontier's proposed DCA-COS service is particularly important given the unparalleled commercial, aerospace and high-tech industry, governmental, and military links between Colorado Springs and the National Capital Region. "The Springs" is Colorado's second largest city and a primary access point for the Rocky Mountains and three of Colorado's top tourist destinations: the U.S. Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods. Colorado Springs is also home to over 36,000 Department of Defense personnel and five major military installations (Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and the U.S. Air Force Academy) - all of which are located within 25 miles of the Colorado Springs Airport. These installations house numerous major military commands like U.S. Northern Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Air Force Space Command, the 4th Infantry Division, and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. In addition, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Training Center also call Colorado Springs home, and nearly every high-tech and defense contractor in the country has a significant presence in the region.
These military installations, organizations, and businesses generate extensive travel to and from the Washington, D.C., area, making our nation's capital the number one destination for Colorado Springs air passengers. Proposed service by Frontier Airlines would fill a glaring service void by providing for the first time much-needed, nonstop DCA service and low-fare competition to a market for which currently over 90 percent of passengers are forced to purchase high-fare connecting tickets. Of additional benefit to consumers, this new non-stop route could reduce travel time by up to three hours over existing options.
Frontier recently established Colorado Springs as a focus city, and it is the only low-fare carrier offering daily service to a growing Colorado Springs route network. Enabling Frontier to provide DCA-COS service would help strengthen Frontier's low-fare competitive presence in the state and allow it to offer improved service via Colorado Springs to several other western cities, including San Diego, which would receive one-stop single-plane service from DCA. DCA-COS would also provide the cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver with an additional one-stop connecting option to Washington, DC.
For these reasons, we strongly support Frontier's bid to acquire one non-stop flight for Colorado Springs - DCA service and ask for your full and fair review of its application. We look forward to hearing back from you on this matter, which is of the utmost importance to the people of Colorado.