Baltimore-Washington International Airport should not have a London route, politicians and airport executives from Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., contend.
In statements filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, congressmen from Tennessee and Florida said that their respective local airports would make better gateways to London's Gatwick Airport.
The legislators asserted that Baltimore-Washington area passengers have sufficient access to London flights originating from Dulles International Airport and Philadelphia.
"The Washington region is well-served with other Washington-to-London routes and Philadelphia-to-London service," Representative Bob Clement, D-Tenn., said. "The Department of Transportation should consider which air gateway can maximize passenger, shipping and freight opportunities."
The Nashville airport, an American Airlines hub, has no direct service to London.
A letter citing reasons for Nashville to take over the Baltimore route was signed by Mr. Clement and eight other Southeast legislators and hand-delivered last week to Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner, whose department was accepting comments on the proposed sale of TWA's six London routes to American Airlines Inc.
The DOT has preliminarily agreed to allow American to purchase three of Trans World's routes from Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to London. The department has said TWA should retain the St. Louis service, while the Baltimore and Philadelphia routes will likely be put up for bid.
Orlando hopes to add to its European service, which is now dominated by British Airways and several charter airlines. Of the 1.8 million passengers who fly overseas from Orlando, half of them go to Britain, according to Carolyn Fennell, spokeswoman for Orlando International Airport. "We feel that Orlando needs additional service," she said.
A group of Florida legislators led by Republican Sen. Connie Mack has sent a statement to the DOT arguing that point.
Officials at BWI are monitoring the situation closely. "I think it's always important to take these things very seriously," said Jay Hierholzer, associate administrator of marketing and development at BWI.
He is fairly certain the DOT will not let the route be moved.
"I am very confident that DOT will not move our route as long as there is . . . a strong carrier with a hub here that is willing to operate that route," he said, referring to USAir.