Melbourne Airport Pushes for Daily Nonstop Flights to Washington, D.C.

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Written By Lori Walker

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Melbourne Orlando International Airport officials are launching a campaign to persuade American Airlines to offer daily nonstop flights between the Space Coast and Washington, D.C.

Right now, American Airlines operates three daily nonstop flights from Melbourne, all heading to its hub in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, the airline offered seasonal weekend flights to Washington, D.C., from mid-February to early May.

However, these flights didn’t perform as well as hoped because they primarily served leisure travelers rather than business needs, according to Greg Donovan, the airport’s executive director.

“Our local businesses really need weekday flights,” Donovan said. “Daily service would be a huge hit and better meet the demand for weekday travel.”

The demand for daily flights is driven by local companies working with Department of Defense programs and federal projects, as well as interactions between Washington officials and Brevard County businesses. Donovan pointed out that business travel typically occurs during the week, not on weekends.

To back this initiative, airport officials plan to survey local businesses through Chambers of Commerce to gauge the need for daily nonstop flights to Washington, D.C. This data will help project potential revenue for American Airlines.

The airport is also preparing for increased service from American Airlines. Starting November 5, the number of daily flights to Charlotte will rise from three to four. Additionally, American plans to upgrade its fleet, replacing the current Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets with newer Embraer E175 aircraft, which offer better range and modern features.

On June 11, Melbourne Airport officials met with American Airlines to discuss the possibility of adding daily flights to Washington, D.C. According to David Dague, a Boston-based aviation consultant, competition for flight slots is fierce. “We’re not just competing with nearby airports but with airports across the country for these valuable aircraft,” Dague noted.

A recent economic impact study highlighted the importance of Melbourne’s nonstop flights. In 2023, these flights generated $280.7 million in economic output, $109.6 million in wage earnings, and $13.2 million in local tax revenue.

While Delta Air Lines’ flights to Atlanta led in passenger numbers and economic impact, American Airlines contributed $68.6 million and served 151,000 passengers.

Donovan believes that showing strong community support will strengthen their case for daily flights to Washington, D.C. “We need to prove that the demand here is higher than for the less successful routes we currently have,” he said.

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