In Case You Missed It: Former Speaker Of The Missouri House Calls DCA Federal Perimeter Rule Anti-Consumer & Anti-Competitive, Urges Congress To Approve Additional Flights To DCA
“Greater competition means lower prices for Missouri’s business travelers and families.”
-Tim Jones, Former Speaker Of The Missouri House Of Representatives
In case you missed it, in an op-ed published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tim Jones, the former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, calls on Congress to modernize the outdated federal perimeter rule at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill. Jones notes that “Washington, D.C. has the highest domestic ticket prices among all major metro areas in the country, and IAD just earned the title of most expensive airport in the country.”
The perimeter rule, Jones argues, exemplifies an outdated protectionist policy that needs reform, and that “pro-consumer, free-market reforms will benefit all Americans.”
Lastly, Jones addresses the misleading claims being pushed by opponents, noting that current in-perimeter flights to states like Missouri will be protected under the proposed legislation. “Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill calls for replacing any current flight to DCA from any regional airport. In fact, regional airports should support, not oppose this effort, as they too could potentially gain a route to Washington, D.C. If Congress were to finally approve additional flights to DCA, airlines would determine how and when to safely schedule them,” Jones writes.
Read the full op-ed HERE and below:
Missourians Need Greater Direct Access To And From D.C.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Op-ed)
July 7, 2023
There is a debate occurring this year in Congress over the role of the federal government in managing daily operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. DCA is the primary airport for the millions of Americans who visit our nation’s capital, and it is used by thousands of Missourians every year.
The backdrop for this debate is the upcoming reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which occurs every five years. The central question is whether Congress should ease or maintain the restrictions of DCA’s so-called “perimeter rule” — a federal regulation specific only to that airport that caps the number of daily flights into and out of the airport outside of a 1,250-mile radius.
To non-Capitol Hill watchers, it may seem as though this question only affects Northern Virginia and the Western United States, but it absolutely affects Midwestern states like Missouri and all states within the 1,250-mile radius as well.
The perimeter rule is an anti-consumer, anti-free market, anti-competitive measure that was passed by Congress in the 1960s to protect the development of Northern Virginia’s other airport, Dulles International (IAD). As a result of this federal policy, there are fewer options for direct flights into our nation’s capital from many parts of our country which in turn have led to abnormally high airline ticket prices. In fact, according to a recent study, Washington, D.C. has the highest domestic ticket prices among all major metro areas in the country, and IAD just earned the title of “most expensive airport in the country.”
Again, to underline the fact, DCA is the only airport in the country that is arbitrarily limited by the federal government like this. Congress rightfully does not divide flights among Lambert International Airport, Kansas City International Airport and Missouri’s regional airports. The airlines accomplish that based on supply and demand in every other market in the country resulting in cheaper prices and more flight options for travelers. If not for this antiquated bit of Congressional market manipulation, the same would be true for DCA — an important travel hub for the country and the airport that services our nation’s capital.
There is a bipartisan, bicameral effort underway in Congress to help solve this problem by authorizing additional daily flights at DCA during this year’s FAA reauthorization process. There is a bipartisan bill introduced in the House (H.R. 3185) and a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate (S. 1933) that would allow additional flights to DCA from outside-perimeter and inside-perimeter destinations, so Missourians would benefit from stronger direct access to and from our nation’s capital as well. Either bill would be a major improvement to the status quo.
Why is this important?
For starters, Congress keeping its thumb on the scales of supply and demand is bad precedent. Protectionist policies such as the perimeter rule should come off the books every time we find them. When Congress has an opportunity to pull the weeds from the overgrown garden of federal rules and regulations, responsible citizens should encourage them to seize it. Pro-consumer, free-market reforms will benefit all Americans.
Even more crucially, the potential for more direct flights to DCA means the potential for more direct flights from DCA. Our state would certainly benefit from having more visitors to our Midwestern cities and abundant outdoor recreation. And every state would benefit from stronger access to its policymakers.
There have been claims that improved access to our nation’s capital might somehow negatively affect smaller, regional airports. Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill calls for replacing any current flight to DCA from any regional airport. In fact, regional airports should support, not oppose this effort, as they too could potentially gain a route to Washington, D.C. If Congress were to finally approve additional flights to DCA, airlines would determine how and when to safely schedule them.
The potential for more direct flight options to and from DCA means greater competition. Greater competition means lower prices for Missouri’s business travelers and families. America does not need Congress micromanaging access to our nation’s capital any longer.
Tim Jones is the former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and chair of the Missouri Center-Right Coalition.
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