Direct Flights from Baton Rouge to Washington D.C.? Here’s When, How it Will Happen.

The Advocate

Baton Rouge residents will have soon direct access to the nation’s capital via American Airlines nonstop flights to Reagan International Airport that are set to begin June 1, airport officials said Thursday. Metro Councilman and Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport commissioner Cleve Dunn, Jr. said Thursday. 

The airline will operate a morning flight from BTR to Reagan and an evening flight from Reagan to BTR daily, and tickets go on sale Sunday, according to a news release from BTR. 

“We’ve been working to increase destinations … and this was one that many people in the Baton Rouge area wanted and we’ve been trying to get,” said Cleve Dunn, Jr., a Metro Council member and Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport commissioner. 

The flights will be operated with a 76-seat Embraer 175 jet with first class, premium economy, and economy seating, according to a news release from BTR.

Flights will take about 2 hours and 44 minutes, departing Baton Rouge at 5:44 a.m. Central Time and landing in Arlington, Va., just across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia, at 9:26 a.m. Eastern Time. Flights from Reagan will depart at 7:45 p.m. Eastern Time and land at 9:29 p.m. Central Time, according to the news release. 

The direct flights are the result of a deal between East Baton Rouge’s city-parish government and the airline that includes about $2 million in revenue guarantees from local, state and federal sources if the route underperforms, Dunn said.

Airport commissioners had been trying to build the fund and establish the direct service for about a decade. Then the airport received a $1 million Small Community Air Service Development Program grant in 2021 that was matched with $200,00 from the Greater Baton Rouge Economic Partnership with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, according to the news release.

The Chamber received that money through a $1 million appropriation from the legislature in 2021 that went to the grant match and the airport’s fund, according to the news release. 

“As Louisiana’s Capital Region, having nonstop service to the US capital just makes sense,” BRAC president and CEO Adam Knapp wrote in a statement. “Not only will this new flight allow for better business travel, but it is a huge step for connecting our region to another major metro area.”

The flights will also make it easier for Baton Rouge officials to travel to D.C. to lobby for grants and appropriations at a time when billions of dollars in federal grants are available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Dunn said. 

The flights will make Baton Rouge the last Southern state capital to establish direct flights with D.C., BTR Aviation Director Mike Edwards said. 

Even without direct flights, D.C. is BTR passengers’ number four most popular city for origins and destinations, trailing only Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston, Edwards said. The direct flights to D.C. in addition to direct flights to Charlotte that serve as a popular layover from BTR to Reagan should also drive down customer fares for both options, Edwards said. 

“The more flight options, the more frequency, the competition drives down fares,” Edwards said.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the flights will increase Baton Rouge’s impact on D.C. and be good for the local economy. 

“A nonstop flight from Baton Rouge to Washington DC is monumental for our city and region,” Broome wrote in the statement. “Connecting the capital of Louisiana with our nation’s capital will bring tourists and businesses directly into Baton Rouge without having to travel through the New Orleans area.”

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