Axios: A push for more long-haul flights from Reagan

Axios, April 27, 2023

Reagan National Airport has few flights to the West Coast due to federal limits. Now, Delta Air Lines is part of a new coalition lobbying to allow airlines to make farther nonstop trips.

Why it matters: The flight limit has long led Washingtonians to seek out Dulles International and BWI for long-haul flights, and changes to the rule have been politically controversial.

Context: The “perimeter rule” was first established in 1966 to boost the viability of Dulles and reduce congestion at the much-smaller National, and jet noise over dense neighborhoods.

  • The limit has been gradually relaxed to allow non-stop service within 1,250 miles — as far west as Kansas.
  • Congress has overridden the limit, often to establish flights to members’ home districts.
  • There are now 20 exempted roundtrip flights daily going to destinations such as Los Angeles and Denver. The late Arizona Sen. John McCain won the first exemption for Phoenix.

Driving the news: The new coalition called the Capital Access Alliance includes business groups from California and Texas. It released a study from the Boston Consulting Group which called the National Airport rule “antiquated” and argued it drives up airfare costs.

  • The study calls for 20 to 25 more exemptions to the perimeter. Authors say they believe it can be done without increasing noise pollution, a long struggle in neighborhoods near the Potomac River.

Read the full article from Axios here.