It is the oldest continuously operating airport in the world, but it has not seen scheduled flights for decades. Starting next month, however, College Park Airport just outside Washington, DC will be added to the route map for Tailwind Air, allowing the carrier to offer flights from its base on the East River in New York City to the DC area beginning on 13 September 2022.
The flights take 80-90 minutes in each direction, slower than the in-flight time for existing jet service, but close to the total block time considering typical taxi in/out timing at the larger airports.
Flights will run 10x weekly in each direction, mostly focused on a business travel schedule of morning and afternoon departures. Tailwind cannot land on the river at night so the schedule also has to account for that limitation.
Bypassing the congestion of the northeast corridor between New York and Washington, DC remains the core mission of Tailwind Air. This new D.C. service complements our existing groundbreaking service between Manhattan and Boston Harbor as well as our numerous summer destinations in the Hamptons and Provincetown.– Alan Ram, CEO and cofounder of Tailwind Air
Fares start at $395 each way. Refundable last-minute fares are $795. For the route launch the company is offering a BOGO promotion using code TWDCBOGO when booking directly at flytailwind.com.
Passengers are permitted a total of 20 pounds of baggage, covering their carryon and/or standard-sized rolling bag.
Tailwind’s planes are small, but comfortable inside. They feature climate-controlled seating for eight passengers, along with the two pilots. That smaller size makes routes like this possible. The College Park Airport runway is just 2,607 feet long, precluding larger aircraft operations.
Peter Manice, Tailwind Air cofounder and director of scheduled services is especially keen on the new route and the unique nature of serving the small airport:
It’s an interesting airport for us because it has a lot of similar attributes to what we offer in our traditional water to water flights. It bypasses congestion. It bypasses lines. It bypasses large terminals. It also offers something relatively unique, free parking right at the terminal. And so in many ways it delivers a lot of what we do on our Boston – New York route.
At first blush the relatively high fares may seem out of whack for the potential time savings. Manice acknowledges that Tailwind is not the cheapest, though he does hope to drive fares a bit lower as the company continues to scale up.
But the customers – half of whom are repeat travelers – are willing to pay for the overall better travel experience. “People do pay more for to save time,” he explains. “But it is not just saving time. Speed is something we emphasize a lot, our passengers benefit from the reduced stress and uncertainty that we provide. It’s unusual in aviation to have really a differentiated product in a true sense. And we we have that. And I think what our market data shows and what we see from our customer base, is that people value it and that’s really encouraging. I hope that that translates to The New York to Washington market as well, which is larger than the Boston market we serve today.”
With only eight seats on board Tailwind does not have to grab a ton of traffic away from the legacy options to make the routes work. And thus far the company is happy with performance, with high hopes that College Park can extend deliver similar or better numbers.
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