US Airways will cancel its daily nonstop flight between Omaha and Washington, D.C. in coming months as part of its merger with American Airlines.
The Wednesday afternoon announcement came hours after Eppley Airfield officials confirmed that Delta Airlines is picking up a nonstop afternoon flight between the two cities that Frontier Airlines is ending Jan. 31.
For a short time, there will continue to be two nonstop flights available between the two cities.
But eventually the US Airways flight will disappear, decreasing competition and possibly driving up airfares, said Chris Martin, Eppley Airfield's director of operations.
The Omaha-D.C. route is frequented by business travelers, employees at Strategic Command and Nebraska congressional members. Other airlines, including Delta, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, currently offer flights between the two cities, but all require at least one stop.
“The airport has already reached out to a couple of carriers advising them that this has occurred and certainly welcoming any opportunity another airline might have to fly that route,” Martin said.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in order to foster competition, is requiring as part of the airlines' merger that American Airlines Group, the holding company for American Airlines and US Airways, to give up 52 flight slot pairs at Washington Reagan National Airport and New York LaGuardia Airport.
The divestitures of the slots will affect nonstop service between Washington Regan National Airport and 17 cities, including Omaha. Effective dates for the changes will be announced after the sale of slots and related assets is finalized, according to a statement from American Airlines.
The US Airways flight between Washington and Omaha leaves Washington at about 2 p.m. and arrives in Omaha at about 4:15 p.m. It leaves Omaha at about 4:45 p.m. and arrives in Washington around 8:20 p.m.
Beginning Feb. 1, the new Delta flight will leave D.C. at about noon, arriving in Omaha around 2 p.m., Martin said. It will leave Omaha at about 4 p.m. and arrive in Washington around 7:30 p.m., Martin said. The Frontier nonstop flight, available until Jan. 31, operates on a similar schedule.
Last month, the Nebraska congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging continuation of the nonstop flight between Omaha and Washington, D.C. Continuation of the Frontier flight was uncertain as the airline transferred to a new owner.
The letter had asked the department to allow the slots now operated by Frontier's former owner to continue the service via a Delta flight.
In February, the Delta flight will be served by a 50-seat Embraer 145. Starting March 1, the flight will switch to a 69-seat Embraer 170 with 60 coach seats and nine first-class seats, Martin said.