In Case You Missed It: Austin Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Urges Texas Delegation To Support More Flights At DCA

In case you missed it, Brittany Rodriguez, chief operating officer for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wrote an op-ed for The Williamson County Sun in support of modernizing the decades-old federal perimeter rule at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) that is hindering Austin’s growth by impacting its businesses and tourism.

Rodriguez highlights that limited direct access to Washington, D.C. impedes engagement between business advocates, industry leaders and lawmakers. This is especially consequential for Austin, which only has one flight per day to and from DCA despite ranking as the tenth-largest city in the nation and a hub of many Fortune 500 companies. It also attracts millions of tourists yearly, but the perimeter rule drives up consumer prices and limits travel options, impacting many small businesses, particularly Hispanic owned.

Rodriguez thanks U.S. Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his leadership on this issue and urges him and Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as well as the entire Congress, to work together to add more flights at DCA. Doing so will boost Austin’s economic development and make the nation’s capital more accessible to more Americans.

Read the entire piece HERE and below:

Outdated Rule Limits Austin Businesses, Residents From Accessing Nation’s Capital

Brittney Rodriguez
The Williamson County Sun

December 5, 2023

At the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, our mission is clear: we advocate for a vibrant and inclusive business community in greater Austin. That’s why we care about a decades-old federal regulation at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) that is creating an obstacle to Austin’s continued growth. A regulation in D.C. may seem far removed from Texas’ capital, but it has an outsized effect on our business landscape – not to mention other cities across the Lone Star State.

Enacted by Congress in 1966, the “perimeter rule” limits the number of flights that land at or take off from DCA beyond a 1,250-mile radius. The rule has unintended consequences that ripple across the country, particularly those outside this boundary. The perimeter rule has led to limited flight options, high ticket prices and the unnecessary need for multiple connecting flights for Austin residents traveling to our nation’s capital.

The effects of this rule extend beyond mere inconveniences. It has a tangible impact on the travel industry, stifling competition, driving up consumer prices and extending travel times to the national capital region. Unsurprisingly, airfare to Washington, D.C. ranks as the most expensive among the country’s top 10 metropolitan areas, primarily due to the lack of competition in the market.

Austin – and the vast majority of Texas – is outside of the perimeter. There is only one direct flight between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and DCA per day – one of the few exceptions to the outdated rule. These coveted flights come with exorbitant ticket prices, burdening consumers from Texas and the Western part of the United States.

This financial obstacle creates a barrier for business advocates and industry leaders to engage with legislators and regulatory bodies located in Washington, D.C. Austin is the tenth largest city in the nation and the capital of the most business-friendly state in the country. We’re home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, as well as a robust technology sector in our “Silicon Hills.” We’re incredibly proud to be home to a vibrant Hispanic business community. In fact, Austin is one of the top cities in the nation for Hispanic entrepreneurship. As I’ve said previously, we must make progress to allow for continued economic development that we’ve enjoyed here in Austin. Reforming the perimeter rule will allow our great city to ensure “we’re continuing to walk the talk.”

The lack of affordable travel can hinder open dialogue between our business community and lawmakers, from industry leaders to the small business owners that call Austin home. It’s essential that our business community remains connected to our leaders in Washington, D.C. since so many of the policies created on Capitol Hill and the White House affect what we do in Austin.

The impact isn’t confined to the business world alone; it reverberates through tourism in our great state. Austin is a thriving city that attracts millions of tourists annually, which in turn bolsters countless small businesses, including many Hispanic-owned establishments. Legislative measures to modernize the perimeter rule and increase direct access between Washington, D.C. and Austin will directly benefit our members and all Austin residents.

Thankfully, a solution is within reach. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and there is support on both sides of the aisle to include a provision that would add a modest number of flights to and from DCA. We thank Ranking Member Ted Cruz for championing this issue, and we hope he and Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) can take this bipartisan agreement across the finish line.

DCA is equipped to handle these additional flights, and Texas families, business leaders and all travelers alike would benefit from increased direct access to our nation’s capital. The Senate has less than three months to pass this FAA Reauthorization bill. We urge the full Texas delegation to support increased affordable access to Washington, D.C.  We must modernize the antiquated perimeter rule to ensure our nation’s capital remains an accessible destination for all Texans and all Americans.

Brittney Rodriguez is the Chief Operating Officer for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

About CAA

CAA consists of diverse members from around the country and various industries, including transportation, general business groups, the small business sector, entrepreneurs and job creators, organizations focused on economic development and leaders in the civic and policy communities.

Learn more about Capital Access Alliance HERE.