The BTR-DC direct flight has been underused, but local business leaders hope to save it

State and local officials and business leaders are launching a new initiative to encourage more people to take Baton Rouge Metro Airport’s direct flight to Washington, D.C., which is in danger of being discontinued. The initiative was unveiled this morning at the airport.

In June, American Airlines began offering roundtrip service between BTR and Reagan National Airport, but the airline may pull the nonstop service from its 2024 summer schedule if advance bookings do not increase substantially by the end of the year, BTR officials say.

The Fly BTR to DC campaign will encourage Capital Region business and community leaders to pledge to utilize the nonstop flight from Baton Rouge to Washington, D.C. to ensure the airport maintains the route, while also raising awareness about how losing the flight could impact BTR’s effort to retain and expand future air service, officials say.

The airport offered an incentive package worth up to $2 million comprised equally of state and federal funding to secure the route, with the understanding that American wouldn’t necessarily get all the money but could tap the fund if it falls short of its agreed-upon monthly revenue targets. It typically takes at least six to 12 months for a route to become profitable, Jim Caldwell with BTR told Daily Report in January.

The flight was roughly 45% full in August, according to preliminary figures reported in September, compared to 68% in July and 74% in June. The airport needs the load factor to reach 80% or higher to maintain the flight in the long run, Caldwell said.

This story originally appeared in a Nov. 7 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.