In Case You Missed It: Current & Former U.S. Representatives Reinforce Additional Flights At DCA Would Boost Competition & Lower Ticket Prices

“To continue maximizing our regional economic impact and confront the challenges ahead, Utah—and the West—need a seat at the table in Washington, D.C.”
– U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-4)

“Fortunately, there is bipartisan momentum for consumer-oriented reforms, and it couldn’t come soon enough. As a former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee member and Vice-Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I am proud to support this effort.” 
– Former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-6)

In case you missed it, U.S. Representative Burgess Owens (UT-4) and member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, penned an op-ed in The Washington Times reaffirming his commitment to expanding flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) through the Direct Access Act (The DCA Act). Utah, a crucial transportation hub for the Intermountain West Region, boasts several key transportation infrastructure assets and makes significant economic contributions to various industries. Despite this, Utah faces limited connectivity with the nation’s capital, which is why he is leading The DCA Act, which would improve access and affordability for Utah commuters and travelers by adding seven new flights at DCA.

In a second op-ed in The Washington Times, Ryan Costello, former U.S. Representative (PA-6), who served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is a current board member of the Capital Access Alliance, underscores the growing bipartisan momentum in Congress to modernize the outdated perimeter rule. He discredits the false claims made by opponents, citing former FAA Administrator, Michael Huerta, who confirms that DCA can safely accommodate additional flights. Costello also highlights strong support from Northern Virginia residents to lower ticket prices and notes that additional flights would generate tens of millions in tax revenue and create more than 1,000 new jobs for the national capital region.

Read Representative Burgess’ entire piece HERE and below.

Read Representative Costello’s entire piece HERE and below:

Greater DCA access benefits businesses and families with increased competition and lower costs
The Washington Times
U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens
July 18, 2023

On May 10, 1869, from Ogden, Utah, a telegraph operator named W.N. Shilling announced the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad with a single-word notice: “Done!”

As the meeting point for the rail lines connecting the two coasts for the first time in our nation’s history, Utah played a central role in the American economic miracle, the industrial revolution, and the rebirth of our Union post-Civil War.

More than a century later, our state remains a major hub for the Intermountain West region, boasting a prime geographic location, cutting-edge infrastructure, a pro-business environment, and a free market economy. With expansions at the Salt Lake International Airport, the 20th busiest airport in the nation, and the Utah Inland Port Authority, a one-of-a-kind development project connecting major national railways and multiple interstate freeways—Utah has become a world-class hub for travel, tourism, and industry.

To continue maximizing our regional economic impact and confront the challenges ahead, Utah—and the West—need a seat at the table in Washington, D.C. I am proud to be that voice as the first Utahn to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in over 20 years. From responsibly managing water resources to ensuring today’s workforce is well-trained for the jobs of tomorrow and making travel more efficient, affordable, and accessible, we have made significant progress for Utah and the West.

Despite Utah being a major hub for the Intermountain West region and having a robust business environment, with leading voices in nearly every industry, the number of direct flights from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C., is severely limited compared to other major cities. A 60-year-old federally imposed perimeter rule means that Washington, D.C., has some of the highest domestic ticket prices in the nation, squeezing consumers and limiting choices.

That’s why I’m leading the Direct Capital Access (DCA) Act, which aims to expand access and affordability for travelers commuting to D.C. The act will modernize the 60-year-old perimeter rule and add seven flights at Reagan National Airport. It will also promote market competition, increase consumer choices, and lower airfare costs for families and businesses in Utah and across the nation traveling to and from Washington.

For growth to continue, we need a skilled workforce equipped to take on the jobs of tomorrow, like energy production. My district is home to Kennecott Copper Mine, the largest excavation and open-pit copper mine in the world. Utah is also home to the Spor Mountain Mine, the largest Beryllium producer worldwide, which harvests vital minerals for America’s aerospace, defense, and energy industries. That’s why I championed the Mining Schools Act, which aims to reverse a recent 21% decline in graduation rates for university and college mining and geological programs by supporting academic and professional programs that equip workers with the skills needed to compete in the global economy, unleashing American energy independence, and reducing our reliance on foreign adversaries for our energy needs.

Across the West, farmers, ranchers, and industries are experiencing the worst drought in over 1,200 years, necessitating a collaborative approach to water management. Local elected officials, community members, policymakers in Washington, and all stakeholders must cooperate to improve water conservation efforts and combat shortages.

To address water management and harness Utah’s innovative spirit, I supported the Water Data Act to replace out-of-date, hard-to-use information with real-time, accurate data to help communities in their ceaseless efforts to deliver and conserve water. I am also proud to support several initiatives to save the Great Salt Lake, like Rep. John Curtis’ Great Salt Lake Stewardship Act and our delegation’s Great Salt Lake Recovery Act, which bolster local efforts to preserve and maintain our state’s precious water resources amid historic drought conditions.

154 years ago, the golden spike was driven to link Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad in Utah, spurring American economic ingenuity and dynamism. Our state’s pioneering spirit, historical significance, and current economic standing highlight the need for strong representation in Washington, D.C. Together, we can ensure the Beehive State remains a driving force of American innovation into the 21st century.

U.S. Representative Burgess Owens, Utah Republican, serves on the House Transportation & Infrastructure and the Education & the Workforce Committees. He founded Second Chance 4 Youth, a non-profit to help troubled and incarcerated youth, prior to his Congressional service representing Utah’s Fourth District. He was one of the first black athletes recruited to play football at the University of Miami and was the 13th pick in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft. His NFL career included a Superbowl win with the 1980 Oakland Raiders.

Time To Modernize D.C. Air Travel & Support Consumers
The Washington Times
Ryan Costello
July 18, 2023

Washington, D.C., is home to a notorious distinction for air travelers.

It is more expensive to fly to Washington, D.C., than to fly to any other major metropolitan area in the United States. In fact, Dulles International Airport (IAD) was recently named “the most expensive airport in the country” with an average domestic ticket price of almost $500.

In addition, because many passengers have to make at least one connection when flying into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), a recent study showed that DCA also has the highest carbon footprint per passenger among all airports in the top U.S. metro areas.

This year, Members of Congress in both parties have their sights set on addressing these issues by targeting an outdated federal regulation that applies to DCA and no other airport in the country. This unseemly bit of anti-competitive protectionism, officially known as “the perimeter rule” has resulted in sky-high airfares, fewer direct flight options, and more layovers when traveling to DCA.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan momentum for consumer-oriented reforms, and it couldn’t come soon enough. As a former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee member and Vice-Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, I am proud to support this effort.

Since 1966, at the direction of Congress, the federal government has enforced a limit on the number of long-distance flights that can access DCA each day. The original goal of this intervention by Congress was to ensure a customer base for the newly built Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Loudoun County, Virginia. We can leave it to urban planners to debate whether government protectionism was ever necessary. Still, given Northern Virginia’s population explosion over the last 20-plus years, and the reality that ten times more Americans are flying today versus 60 years ago, there’s no question that it’s time to take a fresh look in 2023.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate, which would allow additional flights to DCA to both in and beyond perimeter destinations. The airlines that currently serve DCA would be authorized to add a modest number of new flights on top of their existing service.

Of course, the debate over whether to open up DCA—like all policy debates—has become the subject of Capitol Hill politics, local politics, media speculation, and intense lobbying. Some airlines would like to keep limits on DCA to protect their current competitive advantage over flight routes. They are trying to defeat this bill for the simple reason that they oppose more competition. Some D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area Members of Congress would like to keep federal limits on DCA to continue propping up Dulles even as the data shows it is doing just fine.

Beltway media have a habit of covering public policy debates through the lens of who’s winning and losing on K Street. But the real question is whether Congress will side with consumers or with the special interests invested in maintaining the status quo.

The status quo protectors have claimed that the House and Senate legislation could somehow threaten routes to DCA from smaller regional airports. Of course, this doesn’t make sense. The bill is four pages long, and nowhere does it have language about any current flights—it only authorizes additional flights.

Here are some other facts:

We know that adding flights at DCA can be done safely. According to FAA data, DCA is well equipped to handle additional flights during multiple windows throughout the day. Former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who served under both Presidents Obama and Trump, has also made this argument in support. Additionally, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) recently completed a $1 billion terminal expansion at DCA, helping to facilitate thousands more daily passengers.

We also know that adding flights to DCA will benefit the people who call the capital region home. Greater tourism, for example, will bring greater economic activity, including tens of millions in tax revenue and more than 1,000 new jobs, according to a private sector study.

We know that adding flights to DCA is supported by the local community. According to polling data, most Virginia voters including a majority in Northern Virginia support this effort.

Some things from 1966 remain timeless, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But in our current age of innovation and competition, 1960’s-era big government protectionism has outlived its usefulness. Demand for air travel is ten times higher than it was back then. It only makes sense for the perimeter rule to be adapted to better meet consumers’ needs.

It’s time to strengthen Washington‘s connectivity to the rest of the country, shed the distinction of notoriously high prices, and allow DCA to modernize like every other major airport.

Ryan Costello served as U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s Sixth District from 2015 to 2019 where he served on the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation. He is a board member for the Capital Access Alliance.

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.