Bill proposes 28 new daily flights at DCA, with longer distances

By: Lori Aratani

The Washington Post, May 11, 2023

Lawmakers from Georgia and Utah introduced a bill Wednesday to increase the number of long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport, a measure that is drawing opposition from local residents, airport officials and members of the D.C.-area congressional delegation.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah), would allow 28 more flights daily and permit airlines to offer more long-distance service out of National Airport, where federal rules allow only a handful of flights to operate beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter.

“By limiting the number of flights in and out of National Airport, we are squeezing consumers — they are the ones paying the price,” Johnson said in a statement. “Travelers who want to visit the capital region face the most expensive domestic ticket prices compared to other major markets because of limited competition.”

The measure drew opposition from regional lawmakers and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages National and Washington Dulles International Airport. The agency has long fought changes to air service at National, arguing the airport is too small to accommodate additional air service.

MWAA said relaxing the perimeter rule would lead to more noise and congestion, as well as reduced service at smaller airports. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) said the bill would harm the region’s airports.

“This is a dangerously misguided bill that would cripple both DCA and Dulles airports — causing severe congestion and delays as well as canceling service options that make it harder for Americans to come to our nation’s capital region,” she said in a statement. “Changes to the perimeter rule are counterproductive and unnecessary, squandering significant investments of taxpayers dollars including in Metro’s Silver Line extension.”

The legislation comes in response to a campaign unveiled last month by the Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of business groups, to persuade lawmakers to amend rules they say are outdated and hurt the local economy. Delta Air Lines, the second-largest carrier at National, is among the members of the coalition.

Brian Walsh, a spokesperson for the CAA, said he commended lawmakers for pushing to modernize a federal regulation he said would make travel to the region more affordable.

Read the full article from The Washington Post here.