In Case You Missed It… Idaho Statesman: Boise Pushes For Flight To Washington, D.C. Can Idaho’s US Senators Help Make It Happen?
“It Is Critical To People Here For Business, For Pleasure, For Everything Else. We Need More Flights.” – U.S. Senator Jim Risch
In case you missed it, the Idaho Statesman published an article highlighting support from Boise city officials and Idaho’s federal lawmakers for modernizing the outdated federal perimeter rule at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in order to increase affordable, direct access between Idaho and Washington, D.C.
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean outlined how valuable increased flights to the national capital region would be for Idaho residents, saying,“Residents throughout our region rely on the Boise Airport to connect them with friends, family and economic opportunity… Visiting our nation’s capital, experiencing the history, art and culture that can only be seen there, is something everyone should be able to do. A direct flight to DCA will open that up for so many.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson (R-02) said modernizing the perimeter rule will benefit consumers in Idaho and across the country: “Our nation’s capital should be easily accessible for Americans nationwide… Expanding the number of flights at DCA will lower prices, promote market competition, and benefit consumers nationwide. This is a commonsense concept to increase more options for all Americans.”
“Air access to our nation’s capital continues to be a top priority for our region,and the Boise Airport has prioritized air service to the East Coast due to passenger demand,” said Rebecca Hupp, director of the Boise Airport. She noted that narrowing the gap in affordable access would help the airport “better serve [its] passengers.”
Idaho Senators Mike Crapo (R) and Jim Risch (R) have signaled their support for adding additional flights at DCA, which will be key when the U.S. Senate addresses the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill in the coming weeks.
Read the full article HERE and below:
Boise Pushes For Flight To Washington, D.C. Can Idaho’s US Senators Help Make It Happen?
November 9, 2023
Nonstop flights to the nation’s capital are a key target for Boise’s growing airport, with city officials making a push with support from Idaho’s federal lawmakers to make it happen.
The Boise Airport earlier this year added to its list of priority destinations a direct route to and from Washington, D.C. Boise Mayor Lauren McLean has helped lead the charge in lobbying the state’s four congressional delegates to bring about the flight between the Treasure Valley air hub and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
For years, Boise has strived to attract more nonstop flights to the East Coast. The airport offers financial incentives, including covering fees airlines usually pay for use of runways and the terminal, to garner such priority flights, but so far with limited success to the East.
The twice-per-decade funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, however, “generates an opportunity for Congress to evaluate and improve air service in our country where constraints exist,” a handout sent by the city to the federal lawmakers read. That includes trips to the Reagan airport, which goes by the code DCA.
“Residents throughout our region rely on the Boise Airport to connect them with friends, family and economic opportunity,” McLean said in a statement to the Idaho Statesman. “Visiting our nation’s capital, experiencing the history, art and culture that can only be seen there, is something everyone should be able to do. A direct flight to DCA will open that up for so many.”
But Reagan is one of five airports with federal restrictions limiting the number of flights that are allowed to fly in and out. With a handful of exceptions, DCA also carries with it a rule that blocks nonstop flights from farther away than 1,250 miles. The so-called “perimeter rule” at Reagan prevents direct trips to and from Boise, which is located more than 2,000 miles from Washington.
Through the FAA Reauthorization Act, Boise is hoping to become another of those exceptions. Other Western cities such as Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Denver already have them.
Idaho’s two congressmen, Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, voted in support of a bipartisan effort to include language in the House version of the FAA bill to add seven round-trip flights at DCA outside of the perimeter rule. The amendment narrowly failed en route to the overall bill’s passage in the House in July.
“Our nation’s capital should be easily accessible for Americans nationwide,” Simpson, whose congressional district includes the Boise Airport, said in a statement to the Statesman. “Unfortunately, due to the outdated perimeter rule at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, that is not the case — especially for those in the West. Expanding the number of flights at DCA will lower prices, promote market competition, and benefit consumers nationwide. This is a commonsense concept to increase more options for all Americans.”
SENATE STILL OFFERS HOPE
The Senate version of the FAA reauthorization bill has yet to take full shape or receive a vote. But if Boise’s strategy to secure a nonstop flight to Washington is going to work, the concept would need to be reintroduced there.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have signaled support for Boise landing a direct trip to DCA, despite pushback from mostly East Coast lawmakers and some airlines. Opponents have argued that more flights into Reagan airport will create more flight delays at an already congested airport.
“Sen. Crapo believes direct access from Idaho to Washington, D.C., would allow more Idahoans to engage personally with the federal government,” his spokesperson, Marissa Morrison, told the Statesman by email. A clause creating DCA flight exceptions beyond the 1,250-mile rule is not included in the Senate’s current draft bill, “but discussions about adding such language remain ongoing,” she said.
Risch’s office did not return a request for comment from the Statesman. But in an interview earlier this year, he told the Statesman that he supported the airport’s growth with expanded flight options.
“Boise’s got a great airport. It’s managed well by the city,” Risch said. “It is critical to people here for business, for pleasure, for everything else. We need more flights.”
The farthest east that Boise air travelers can presently fly nonstop is Atlanta aboard Delta Air Lines’ daily round trip. But that route serves only a portion of the demand among the roughly 15% of passengers at the Boise Airport whose final destination is on the East Coast, according to the airport data.
In summer 2021, JetBlue Airways briefly offered a seasonal flight between Boise and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City — another of Boise’s wish list destinations. The route was discontinued after just one year as JetBlue exited the market.
Nonstop flights to Washington, D.C., remain high on the airport’s list of preferred destinations — through federal legislation, or otherwise.
“Air access to our nation’s capital continues to be a top priority for our region, and the Boise Airport has prioritized air service to the East Coast due to passenger demand,” Rebecca Hupp, director of the Boise Airport, said in a statement to the Statesman. “We are hoping to narrow that gap to better serve our passengers.”
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