In Case You Missed It: Kansas State Representative & Veteran United Airlines Pilot Calls On Congress To Add More Flights At DCA
“When you’re a pilot, safety comes first. While DCA is indeed a busy airport, if adding more flights at DCA wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t endorse such an idea.”
– Kansas State Representative Michael Murphy
In case you missed it, Kansas State Representative and former United Airlines Captain Michael Murphy published an op-ed in the Wichita Eagle today, urging Congress to modernize the outdated perimeter rule by adding more flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). With 28 years of experience as a captain, Murphy agrees that DCA can safely accommodate additional flights.
He notes that United Airlines controls 80 percent of the gates at Dulles International Airport (IAD), which is why they’ve launched an expensive campaign to stop efforts to increase competition. “Protectionism serves few at the expense of many,” writes Murphy, “and it’s the Kansas students, families, business leaders and policymakers who want and need to affordably travel to Washington, D.C. that are being hurt the most.” Further, “[Y]ou don’t have to be an economist to know that fewer choices lead to higher prices.”
He called on U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall to support more competition at DCA noting, “It doesn’t make sense that the Washington, D.C. market is still controlled by a stagnant, anti-competitive regulation enacted by Congress before the Boeing 737 made its first commercial flight.”
Read State Rep. Michael Murphy’s entire piece HERE and below:
This Is Your Captain Speaking: Outdated Rule Stifles Kansas, KC Air Service
The Wichita Eagle (op-ed)
July 25, 2023
Before having the honor of representing the people of the 114th district in the Kansas House of Representatives, I was a captain for United Airlines for 28 years.
I flew thousands of people all over the world, including into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – one of Washington, D.C.’s primary airports.
Many Kansas residents travel to Washington, D.C. every year, but there’s a federal regulation that was established by Congress in 1966 that impacts how we get there and how much we pay for airline tickets. It’s called the “perimeter rule” – and there’s a battle happening right now in the halls of Congress over whether to modernize it.
Kansans have a reason to be invested in the outcome.
Today, the only direct flight to DCA for Kansas travelers is from Kansas City, Missouri. Fortunately, a new direct flight to DCA is coming to Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport (ICT) starting in January. As we work to attract families and businesses to grow our state, we must build on this momentum and pursue more affordable access to markets around the country, including our nation’s capital.
Unfortunately, the perimeter rule strictly limits DCA’s long-distance flights and DCA is the only airport in the country that is governed by a federal regulation like this. The primary stated reasons to enact such a policy back in 1966 was to allow the newly-built Dulles International (IAD), the capital region’s other airport, to grow, and to protect residences near DCA from noise pollution.
The demand for air travel has changed significantly over the past 60 years. Aircraft performance has improved significantly and noise levels are now dramatically lower.
Dulles is a thriving airport in the capital region with domestic and international flights. Yet, the perimeter rule still persists and these restrictions are now costing travelers sky-high prices when they fly to the nation’s capital.
In fact, Washington, D.C. is now the most expensive air travel market of any major U.S. city. It’s suppressing competition, enabling only a handful of airlines, particularly my former employer United Airlines, to control most of the market.
United controls 80 percent of the gates at Dulles and they do not want more competition. This is why United is leading an expensive lobbying campaign to defeat this effort and leave in place a protectionist policy that helps their financial bottom line at the expense of air travelers.
It is disappointing to see some in our state, including some voices published on this opinion page, misled by their campaign. (“Congress, don’t cut Wichita and KC air service,” June 15, and “Delta wins, you lose if DC airport rule gets changed,” June 28)
I loved my time working for United but as an elected leader in my community, I will always put Kansans first and you don’t have to be an economist to know that fewer choices lead to higher prices.
Time and time again, including in the air travel industry, free markets lead to additional options and more competitive costs for consumers. After the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, prices dropped while choices increased and air travel was no longer a luxury few could afford.
It doesn’t make sense that the Washington, D.C. market is still controlled by a stagnant, anti-competitive regulation enacted by Congress before the Boeing 737 made its first commercial flight.
Protectionism serves few at the expense of many, and it’s the Kansas students, families, business leaders and policymakers who want and need to affordably travel to Washington, D.C. that are being hurt the most.
Only Congress can authorize new flights to DCA – and in a rare act of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats are coming together on a commonsense free-market solution. The Direct Capital Access Act, also known as the DCA Act, would reverse course on this decades-long, anti-competitive trend and add new direct flights inside and outside of DCA’s artificial perimeter.
The key word is “new.” Regional airports like Kansas City could potentially gain additional direct service to DCA while the current direct flight would remain in place. A city like Wichita which is anxiously awaiting the ribbon cutting on a new direct flight to DCA could see travel costs decrease when more flights are allowed.
More options to DC would benefit folks who travel out of our smaller Kansas airports through large hubs as well. Consumers would have more choices when they travel and benefit from lower prices. It’s an unequivocal win for Kansas travelers.
When you’re a pilot, safety comes first. While DCA is indeed a busy airport, if adding more flights at DCA wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t endorse such an idea.
But others with industry knowledge agree that more flights can be added, including a former FAA administrator who recently validated that DCA has the capacity to do so.
If senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall care about affordable access to Washington, D.C. for Kansas residents, they should be in full support of the DCA Act.
Rep. Michael Murphy, of Sylvia, represents Kansas’ 114th House District.
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.