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Will Wilmington ever get a direct flight to D.C.?

Gareth McGrath

“Yes, that’s still on our radar screen,” says Jon Rosborough, director at the Wilmington International Airport.

But in reality, it could be a while before the Port City sees a nonstop link to the nation’s capital.

That’s because only about 55 passengers a day fly between the two cities – barely enough to fill a regional jet.

And with slots at Washington’s Reagan-National Airport so coveted, it simply doesn’t make sense for an airline to dedicate two (for a take-off and landing needed for a round trip) for a flight to Wilmington.

But that doesn’t mean airport officials aren’t trying to get a link to the Washington area.

Rosborough said Washington ranks as the airport’s seventh most popular destination.

“And our air-service development program is continually aiming to get nonstop service to cities within our Top 10 list,” he said.

With three airports serving the nation’s capital, that means the Port City could have a better chance of getting a flight to Washington-Dulles, a major international gateway, or Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which is a popular airport with low-fare carriers like Southwest and AirTran.

Rosborough also notes that Wilmington already has direct service to Washington-National – although that requires a stopover in Charlotte or Atlanta, but not a plane change.

Earlier this decade, the Port City did have a nonstop flight to Dulles on United Express.

But US Airways, aiming to protect its turf as the dominant carrier in Wilmington, matched the flight.

And when United, which operates a hub at Dulles, pulled out, US Airways followed suit and dropped the route a few months later.

Myrtle Beach International Airport has one nonstop daily flight to Dulles on United Express.

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