In Case You Missed It: Northern Virginia Business Leader Voices Support For Additional Flights At DCA

In case you missed it, W. Bruce Jennings, board member for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce BizPac and a board member of the free market organization Virginia FREE, published an op-ed in Inside NOVA urging Congress to modernize the outdated perimeter rule and to add flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Jennings highlights Monumental Sports’ proposed new sports arena and entertainment complex in Alexandria’s Potomac Yards, which is in close proximity to DCA. Jennings writes that the potential new home to the Washington Wizards and Capitals exemplifies the significant growth of the Northern Virginia region and demonstrates the need for more affordable air travel.

Adding a modest number of new flights, which was passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s markup of the FAA Reauthorization bill, would help increase competition, lower ticket prices and enhance accessibility to our nation’s capital for all Americans.

Read the entire piece on Inside NOVA HERE and below:

Arena Plan = More Flights Needed at Reagan

Bruce Jennings

Mach 3, 2024

The proposed sports and entertainment complex at Virginia’s Potomac Yard is poised to become a vibrant hub for Northern Virginia, attracting visitors nationwide as the possible new home for the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

Given its close proximity to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), the future economic growth and need for greater accessibility to our region should also support changing a nearly 60-year-old federal regulation that restricts air travel at DCA and has been on the books since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

DCA is a crucial airport not only for Washington but also for Northern Virginia. However, it remains underutilized and less accessible to many air travelers thanks to the outdated “perimeter rule.” This regulation, set by Congress, in 1966 caps the number of direct flights to destinations outside an arbitrary 1,250-mile boundary, limiting the airport to only 20 long-distance flights out of the hundreds of daily flights.

As someone invested in the economic growth and business development of Northern Virginia, I understand the direct and negative impact protectionist policies, such as this one, have on our state. It’s also worth observing that DCA is the only airport in the country still subject to an artificial perimeter rule.

This outdated federal regulation not only limits consumer choice but also drives up ticket prices due to reduced competition, making Washington the most expensive region for domestic air travel compared to other major metropolitan areas. The resulting high prices inhibit tourists and students from exploring this beautiful region and citizens from connecting with their elected officials.

The artificial financial barrier has wider economic consequences for our region, as businesses in the Washington and Northern Virginia area lose out on valuable tourism revenue.

DCA’s location next to Potomac Yard makes it a convenient choice for visitors, including fans attending possible future Capitals and Wizards games and other events at a separate 6,000-seat performing arts venue. That makes it all the more consequential to re-evaluate existing policies that would serve to enhance the development of Potomac Yard and the surrounding area.

Consider, for example, that this same area is also the new home to Amazon’s HQ2 campus, which is bringing thousands of jobs to the area – yet because of the perimeter rule there are only two direct flights per day between DCA and Seattle on just a single airline.

Congress initially created the perimeter rule to protect Dulles International Airport (IAD) when it was new. However, the landscape has evolved significantly since its implementation in the 1960s. Today, IAD’s business, operations and number of flights offered continue to grow exponentially as the airport expands its flight network with a record increase in both international and domestic routes over the past year. This outdated regulation no longer serves the purpose it was intended for; now, it only hurts consumers.

The upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill is the opportune time for Congress to modernize the perimeter rule by authorizing new flights. The proposal for a small number of new flights is in line with what FAA data and aviation experts confirm is feasible. These additional flights would complement existing services without disrupting current offerings.

Expanding flight operations at DCA not only will support the success of the Potomac Yard development but also will enhance accessibility to our nation’s capital for all Americans, benefiting Northern Virginia businesses, tourists from the western part of the country and the metropolitan region’s residents alike.

I strongly urge the inclusion of additional flights at DCA in the FAA Reauthorization bill. Doing so would help usher in a new wave of economic growth and opportunities in our region.

W. Bruce Jennings is a board member for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce BizPac and a board member of the free market organization, Virginia FREE. He is also a season ticket holder for the Washington Capitals.

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.