Southwest check-in counter with some passengers waiting but no visible line
San Jose Mineta International Airport may add nonstop service to Washington, D.C. if it can acquire the new route. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

The South Bay’s airport wants to offer a direct flight to Washington, D.C. — but it needs the public’s help.

San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC) posted a pitch on X, formerly Twitter, asking travelers to help it compete for a nonstop route to Washington, D.C. Spirit Airlines will be the carrier if the airport can acquire the route.

SJC spokesperson Ana State said the response to the proposed flight has been strong. Since the survey came out on June 27, 200 people have responded. She said the survey is not part of the bidding process, but the airport wanted to showcase the community’s support for Spirit Airlines and more flight options.

“As part of this bid, we are seeking the support of both local and state stakeholders, including businesses, political representatives and community members,” State told San José Spotlight. “We received numerous comments from people explaining how this service will impact them, which we will forward to Spirit Airlines for consideration.”

San Jose is one of the largest cities in the nation without a nonstop flight to Washington, D.C., and this new service would offer a closer, more convenient option for residents than the often one-hour trip to San Francisco International Airport.

If successful, this service would add to SJC’s small number of nonstops fights to the East Coast, which includes JetBlue seasonal flights to Boston and New York, and four nonstop weekly Spirit flights to the Baltimore-Washington hub.

Dan Connolly, former chair of the San Jose Airport Commission, remains doubtful the airport will be able to pull it off. He said SJC has had difficulties securing and keeping long-haul and international flights because of restrictions on plane weight in the city.

“I don’t see (SJC) having the capacity, fuel-wise, without being weight restricted,” he told San José Spotlight.

Despite these obstacles, Spirit Airlines recent expansion into San Jose has been positive. In just one year of operation, Spirit Airlines has rapidly grown its South Bay presence.

On June 7, 2023, Spirit Airlines started daily flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Diego, as well as Las Vegas out of SJC. Last month, Spirit began operating two daily flights to Los Angeles, one daily flight to Portland and four weekly flights to Baltimore-Washington, while expanding its existing flights. Starting Sept. 4, Spirit will operate two daily nonstop flights to Burbank.

These developments are part of the airport’s efforts to recover from the effects of the pandemic on the travel industry. Before the pandemic, a significant portion of the airport’s traffic was driven by business travel. That has shifted with business changing to a remote or hybrid work environment. SJC is banking on Spirit Airlines’ continued expansion and other carriers to increase options for leisure and family travel.

Contact Kassia Bonesteel at [email protected] or follow @kekb2004 on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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