In Case You Missed It: Former Ohio Congressman & U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Member Bob Gibbs Outlines Case For Modernizing The DCA Perimeter Rule

In case you missed it, Bob Gibbs, a former Member of Congress representing Northeast Ohio and U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Member, published an op-ed in The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer outlining the need for modernizing the perimeter rule and adding flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Gibbs points to lower ticket prices through increased competition in the Washington, D.C. airfare market as specific reasons why Ohioans, and all Americans, would benefit from increased and more affordable access to the nation’s capital.

Gibbs highlights how the current perimeter rule thwarts competition to the benefit of a few airlines. In turn, he adds, Washington, D.C. is the most expensive metropolitan area to reach via plane, and Dulles International Airport (IAD) is the most expensive airport in the country with an average ticket price of nearly $500.

Gibbs concludes by calling on Congress’ bipartisan support of legislative measures that increase flights at DCA during the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Read the entire piece HERE and below:

Congress Should Act To Allow More Flights, Air Fare Competion To Aid Ohioans Traveling To Washington: Bob Gibbs
The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer
Bob Gibbs
August 9, 2023

For Ohioans, the happenings under the dome of the U.S. Capitol can seem like they’re occurring in a different world. It’s often difficult to feel the impact that federal policies can have on our everyday lives, as so few receive national attention.

Our state is the true power center of the Midwest. Cleveland is on its way to becoming an “18-hour city,” as mid-size cities continue to gain appeal as places to live and do business, and Columbus was one of just six of the country’s 15 largest cities that grew during the pandemic.

This puts Ohio in a position that demands stronger, more affordable, more efficient access to our nation’s capital – and if you’ve ever flown there, there’s a battle happening on Capitol Hill that you should care about.

Right now, lawmakers are deciding whether to expand the number of flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Their decision can significantly impact how you travel.

The issue at hand is the federal perimeter rule. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone.

It’s a protectionist regulation that Congress created back in 1966 that severely limits long-distance flights to and from DCA outside a 1,250-mile boundary, or the “perimeter.”

How does a nearly-60-year-old regulation impact Ohioans? It’s basic economics.

Instead of letting the market dictate supply and demand, a federal regulation is doing the job. The arbitrary restrictions of the perimeter rule are stifling competition and concentrating flights to DCA to a handful of airlines.

As a result, consumers are left with fewer choices and unnecessarily high airfare. It should come as no surprise that Washington, D.C., is the most expensive major domestic destination. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation recently revealed that Dulles International Airport (IAD) nearby in Northern Virginia is the most expensive in the country with a whopping average ticket price of nearly $500.

For many Ohioans that’s a prohibitive price.

DCA is the only airport that operates this way. In every other airport in the country, routes are determined by market demand, not a federal policy from the 1960s. In every other airport, consumers have much more control over their air travel because they have more choices. This is the way a free-market system is supposed to work.

Congress created the perimeter rule, and only Congress can change it. Fortunately, this is one of those few-and-far-between issues uniting Republicans and Democrats this year.

Members on both sides of the aisle should support measures that aim to better align the Washington air travel market with the rest of the country by adding new direct flights to and from DCA. New flights would be distributed among each airline at DCA, and airlines would decide where to allocate them.

But it’s not just cities outside the perimeter that would benefit from this proposal. Cities within the perimeter would benefit, too, with an opportunity to gain new routes, and lower ticket prices through increased competition. And despite what opponents claim, current routes at smaller regional airports will remain the same. It’s not a swap or reallocation. These are brand new flights.

In July, the House rejected an amendment to the Federal Aviation Authorization Act that would have added flights to DCA.

But as members of Congress negotiate the Federal Aviation Authorization Act, they would be wise to include this bipartisan bill as part of the package. It’s a pro-consumer proposal that will loosen the reins of the perimeter rule and make Washington, D.C. more accessible for Ohioans and the entire country.

As competition goes up, prices go down. It’s basic economics.

Bob Gibbs is a former Member of Congress representing a number of counties in Northeast Ohio. He also served in the Ohio House and Senate, and was president of the Ohio Farm Bureau. He writes from Lakeville.


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