Why Amazon’s New HQ2 Will Boost Airlines, DCA Airport

by Chris Dong

By now, you’ve likely heard that Amazon has officially announced its decision to build two massive offices in New York’s Long Island City and Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhoods.

The two sites of “HQ2” is expected to have at least 50,000 employees split between them. The highly publicized hunt for its new headquarters will end up lofting up to $2 billion in tax incentives in Amazon’s direction. Meanwhile, the company said it will spend about $5 billion in construction and other investments in the NYC and DC areas.

However, lost amongst the eye-popping numbers and economic analysis was the transportation and flying angle and the announcement that…

Washington National Airport Gets An Upgrade

Rendering of a pedestrian bridge connecting Crystal City & the airport.

Amazon is expected to spend about $295 million in transportation and infrastructure improvements in and around Crystal City. This includes a proposed pedestrian connector bridge between the shops, high rises, and offices of Crystal City and the Washington National Airport complex.

With fewer cars coming into the airport for drop-off and pick-up, there will be less congestion and need for parking space. Not only would it benefit future Amazon employees and people that reside nearby, but also the bridge would provide instant connection to the DC Metro and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) located at their Crystal City stations.

The proposal has been in the works for months but will now likely get greenlit and fast-tracked with Amazon’s investment.

The Airlines Flying Between HQ2s Get A Boost

Normally, traveling between the Northeast Corridor city centers is most efficiently done via Amtrak or for those more on a budget, the bus. However, for an Amazon employee needing to visit the other HQ2 office for a meeting, flying seems to make the most sense.

Even without the connector, both HQ2 locations are already in close proximity to regional airports. A drive from Crystal City to DCA is at most, 10 to 15 minutes. Similarly, Long Island City has easy, relatively quick transit to LaGuardia Airport via the 7 train and Q70 bus.

Both Delta and American offer 20+ daily weekday shuttle frequencies between LaGuardia and Washington National. Amazon stands to benefit by connecting its 50,000 east coast HQ2 employees via a short airplane ride. These airlines in turn also reap the benefits of the HQ2 announcement.

The three “headquarters” of Amazon.

To get to Amazon headquarters in Seattle, DCA has nonstop service on Alaska Airlines and multiple frequencies on United and Delta from both Washington Dulles and Baltimore. Meanwhile, New York-JFK and Newark have at least nine daily flights to Seattle. Amazon has their bases covered on both coasts while providing enough connectivity between them.

The Upshot

Business travelers usually fly or take Amtrak between cities along the congested Northeast Corridor. Amazon‘s choice of two neighborhoods not located in the city center will benefit airlines the most. Both HQ2’s put future workers in close proximity to LaGuardia and Washington National, and Delta and American’s combined 20+ daily flights between them.

While the debate over Amazon’s effect on the communities that they’ll occupy will only escalate from here on out, there will at least be a benefit provided to some passengers that fly out of Washington National.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on further Amazon developments on how the company could shape transportation and airlines.

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3 comments

tef0306 November 13, 2018 - 2:17 pm

There is already a metro station at Reagan National Airport (Yellow/Blue), so no one in their right mind would walk across the pedestrian bridge from the Crystal City Metro Station.

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AlohaDaveKennedy November 14, 2018 - 9:39 am

I’m not sure that delivering 50% of an HQ at 100% of taxpayer subsidies is of benefit to any taxpayers nor am I sure that increasing air traffic to La Guardia and Washington National is such a good thing. Hasn’t Washington National in particular suffered from severe traffic congestion in recent years? And isn’t the metro system over that way a problem child. As cities have found with hosting the Olympic Games, the value proposition looks less and less favorable.

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John November 14, 2018 - 10:07 pm

Sorry, but this analysis is all wrong. DCA is now at capacity. This convenient “in town” airport is about to see fares skyrocket and limited slots refocused to accommodate Amazon HQ.

There are only a handful of transcon slots per day due to neighborhood activists upset about noise and a federal law which limits such flights. I live near the airport and the local agenda is not one more flight nor one more foot of runway at DCA.

Until the NIMBYs are steamrolled and DCA can infill the Potomac for long haul runways (and become a real airport), Amazon will only make matters worse.

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