Start daily flights to Washington, DC

Start daily flights to Washington, DC

Melbourne Orlando International Airport officials are launching a community campaign to send a message to American Airlines: Start providing daily flights between the Space Coast and Washington, DC.

Today, American offers three nonstop flights daily from Melbourne Airport. All flights depart and arrive from the airline’s hub in Charlotte, North Carolina.

American offered seasonal nonstop weekend flights between Washington, D.C., and Melbourne from mid-February to early May, but those Saturday-Sunday flights weren’t very successful because they weren’t geared toward business travelers, said Greg Donovan, Melbourne Airport’s general manager.

“Our business travelers have consistently high demand for weekday flights and we know that a daily weekday flight would be a tremendous success,” Donovan said in an email.

“Based on our communications with the local business community, there are travel needs related to the numerous Department of Defense programs and federal government work conducted by Brevard-based companies. The same is true for Washington, DC-based officials who need to personally interact with engineering programs or manufacturing sites located here,” the email said.

“What they all have in common is that the flight service must be convenient enough for a traveler to travel for a day or two. Not many business missions take place over the weekend unless it is a longer-term assignment,” the email said.

In the coming months, Donovan said, airport officials will reach out to Brevard businesses through chambers of commerce to gauge customer demand for daily nonstop flights to the nation’s capital. That data will be compiled to predict American’s potential revenue.

The MLB campaign comes as American expands its service on the Space Coast, increasing the number of daily flights to and from Charlotte from three to four on Nov. 5, said Mark Busalacchi, airport director of business development and marketing.

American will also retire its Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets that fly to Melbourne over the next few years, Busalacchi said. They will likely be replaced by more modern Embraer E175 aircraft, he said. Both planes have about 76 seats, but the E175 has a longer range.

Airport officials met with American Airlines representatives on June 11 to discuss adding daily flights to Washington, D.C., Donovan said.

“Competition is very tough. We may think we are only competing with the airport around the corner when it comes to air connectivity, but in reality we are competing with all the airports across the country for this precious commodity – which is an aircraft,” David Dague, a Boston-based aviation consultant and director at Arthur D. Little, told the Melbourne Airport Authority during its June 26 meeting.

Dague made a presentation explaining that Melbourne’s nonstop air service will deliver $280.7 million in annual economic output to the local economy in 2023, generate $109.6 million in annual wage revenue and generate $13.2 million in annual local tax revenue.

Delta Air Lines and its flights to Atlanta led the pack last year with 285,530 passengers and $117.8 million in economic output, the study found. American generated $68.6 million (151,000 passengers), while TUI generated $45.6 million (230,455 passengers) and Allegiant Air generated $35.7 million (71,000 passengers). The study’s statistics included Avelo Airlines’ ill-fated attempt to establish a service in Melbourne, which attracted 10,390 passengers and $5.7 million in economic output in 2023.

Regarding American and Washington, DC, Donovan told the MAA board that by involving citizens in the airport’s selling point, “we will adjust our angle of attack” in the search for daily flights.

“Every community in the United States wants to go to DC, every state capital wants to go there, every university campus, every major business center,” Donovan said.

“And we simply have to show that demand is greater here than on the currently weakest route. And I think we can do that,” he said.

Rick Neale is a space reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at [email protected]Twitter/X: @RickNeale1

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