It was never AA's old trip. The route was awarded to TWA and the DOT made it clear it would not transfer to AA as part of the TWA acquisition. The criteria for the DCA beyond perimeter routes is one AA does not qualify for.
The whole idea was to give smaller carriers a shot at these routes. Hence National, Frontier, AWA, TWA won the awards, not the big guys. The original TWA award was subesquently given to Alaska for SEA-DCA some time ago.
United Airlines Seeks to Provide Nonstop Service Between Washington-Reagan and Los Angeles
Wednesday September 18, 3:21 pm ET
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 18, 2002--United Airlines (NYSE: UAL - News) today asked the Department of Transportation for takeoff and landing slots at Washington-Reagan National Airport to begin single daily roundtrip service to Los Angeles International Airport. Under the current rules, carriers can provide nonstop service to airports outside of a 1,250 mile perimeter of Reagan National only if they have been awarded special slots
HP already serves DCA-LAS nonstop once daily (as well as DCA-PHX nonstop twice daily). They are just looking for a second frequency in the DCA-LAS market. But since they already have 3 of the 6 DCA beyond-perimeter slots, IMHO HP is not very likely to get another one.
This should improve AA's chances to receive a slot for new DCA-LAX nonstop service, but it depends on which other carriers also apply (and in which markets) since DOT has previously preferred smaller carriers like Alaska, Frontier and National. But LAX is unquestionably the largest beyond-perimeter market currently without nonstop service to DCA, and it has also attracted UA's interest. So it should be interesting to see how DOT handles this case.