In Case You Missed It: Support In & Beyond The Perimeter Continues For More Affordable Access To Washington, D.C.

In case you missed it, four new opinion pieces have been published in Washington D.C., Tennessee, Wyoming, and Missouri that highlight the continued support from in- and beyond-perimeter states for more flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Former U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla published an op-ed in Roll Call today stressing the need for Congress to update the perimeter rule due to its outdated nature and adverse impact on consumers, particularly in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, known as “Military City USA” due to the significant military population. Bonilla highlights that modernizing the perimeter rule would enhance travel options for the thousands of military personnel, promote healthy competition, lower airfares and unlock the economic potential of cities like San Antonio.

In an op-ed published in The Tennessee Conservative, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ryan Egly urged lawmakers to detangle DCA’s red tape. By adding flights into and out of Washington, D.C., families, school groups, business leaders, and concerned citizens will have more travel options, decreased ticket costs and travel times, and easier access to Washington, D.C. Egly also highlights data from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that shows DCA has openings for additional flights.

In Wyoming, Riverton Chamber of Commerce Board Member Amanda Henry wrote an op-ed published in The Wyoming Tribune Eagle showing support for The DCA Act. She points to the steep ticket prices and need for multiple plane connections pricing out Wyoming’s residents from visiting the nation’s capital. Henry argues that easier access to and from Washington, D.C. would encourage more tourists to visit Wyoming, economically benefitting their state.

Trey Faucheux, president of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans, published an op-ed in The Missouri Times urging his state’s delegation to support bipartisan bills H.R. 3185 and S. 1933 on behalf of Missouri’s students. He highlights that the outdated perimeter rule causes a disconnection between students and future leaders with Washington, D.C., primarily because of exorbitant ticket prices. Faucheux writes, “Students would benefit from improved affordability and access to our nation’s capital, paving the way to more educational and professional opportunities and allowing them to be a part of the democratic process.”

Read Representative Bonilla’s entire piece HERE and below.

Read Ryan Egly’s entire piece HERE and below.

Read Amanda Henry’s entire piece HERE and below.

Read Trey Faucheux’s entire piece HERE and below:

Set Us Free To Fly To DC!
Roll Call (Op-ed)
Henry Bonilla
July 17, 2023

As a native San Antonian, I’ve witnessed the flourishing of the Alamo City over decades.

Like many parts of the Southwest United States, it is overwhelmingly Hispanic and has evolved into a hub for business, education, culture and technology, and we’ve even adopted the proud title of Military City USA due to the high concentration of critical military installations, as well as tens of thousands of veterans and their families.

Yet, at the same time, the federal rules that limit direct air travel to Washington, D.C., from cities like ours have remained stagnant for nearly 60 years, ignoring the substantial changes the airline industry, consumer patterns and flight technology have all undergone in recent decades.

It’s past time that we change these outdated rules — not just for San Antonio, but for all of the dynamic and growing cities in close proximity to the Mexican border that federal law keeps out of reach, both physically and financially, from our nation’s capital.

As Congress takes up Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization this summer and into the fall, it’s crucial that my former colleagues — regardless of what states they represent — unlock the incredible economic potential of more competition and consumer choice in air travel by modernizing the outdated “perimeter rule” that limits direct flights to and from Reagan National Airport outside of a 1,250-mile radius.

This rule, initially designed to protect development at far-flung Dulles Airport, has become an obsolete relic of a bygone era that keeps air fares to our nation’s capital and its surrounding metro area the highest in the nation.

I’m no stranger to this fight — I’ve watched as cities like ours have tried, cycle after cycle, to secure new, direct access that expand choices for millions of consumers, business leaders, members of our military, and student groups that visit Washington, D.C., every year. Unfortunately, some entrenched interests that seek to maintain the status quo have defeated such efforts every five years when the FAA comes up for reauthorization.

As the nation’s seventh largest metro area, which also boasts more than 80,000 active duty military members and 250,000 military veterans, it is simply unconscionable to let the parochial and territorial interests of airlines continue to block direct access between our city and DCA.

With one in eight residents in our region connected to the military, San Antonians deserve more convenient and affordable access to Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia to support our robust and expanding defense contracting, cybersecurity and aircraft manufacturing sectors.

To be clear, expanding the number of direct flights between DCA and out-of-perimeter airports in the western half of the United States would not impact or limit the flight options for travelers inside the federally imposed artificial barrier — it would only enhance the options that consumers have.

We know the demand is there and ready to be met by all the airlines that operate at DCA.

A study found that 110 more daily round-trip flights would be needed to close the supply-demand gap of travel between Washington, D.C., and the top 25 out-of-perimeter metro markets. Furthermore, the study found that lack of supply to meet this demand costs travelers to Washington, D.C., more than $500 million annually in above-average flight prices, and that the cumbersome process of taking connecting flights to arrive in D.C. costs passengers $200 million in lost productivity annually.

I’m grateful my home state senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — recognize the critical importance of expanding direct access to DCA for our growing communities. So do many of our House members.

Common sense solutions like the DCA Act — which would add up to 28 new direct flights to and from DCA — will enhance access to our nation’s capital for all of us along the Mexican border, and prevent our world-class business, military and community leaders from being isolated by an archaic federal rule that has far outlived its purpose. I urge other members of Congress from across America to join this effort to set us free.

Henry Bonilla represented Texas’ 23rd District from 1993-2007.

Make Washington D.C. More Accessible
The Tennessee Conservative (Op-ed)
Ryan Egly
July 14, 2023

Families, school groups, business leaders, and concerned citizens visit our nation’s capital to experience our history and engage with our government.  Many choose to fly as air travel has increasingly become a common good, a mode of transportation easily accessible for most citizens.  However, according to multiple surveys and recent reports, Washington DC tends to be the most expensive destination to reach by flying. 

Of all cities, our capitol city should be the easiest for the American people to access.  Of course, it isn’t a surprise that DC’s closest airport finds itself entangled in Washington’s red tape. 

Like other airports across the country, the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is experiencing a significant boom in the consumer demand for flights.  Unlike other airports, however, Reagan National is limited by a 1960’s era federal law limiting its ability to expand its services.

DCA is the only airport in the country that has federally mandated limits on the number of flights that can fly into and out of the airport.  With certain exemptions that were carved out in the 1980s, these limitations impact flights coming and going more than 1,250 miles away.

Americans can blame this outdated rule for limiting competition and allowing airlines to increase ticket prices with little to no backlash.  Luckily, there is currently a bill before Congress to address this 60-year-old regulation.  The Direct Capital Access Act, known as the DCA Act, will create more and longer flights in and out of Reagan National.

Although nay-sayers inside the DC beltway will argue that the airport is already at capacity and cannot add more flights without jeopardizing the quality of services provided by DCA, the U.S. Government Accountability Office tells us something different.

A 2020 GAO report on this issue highlights that Reagan National is operating well below the 12 maximum authorized hourly reservations for general aviation.  Meaning timeslots do indeed exist to add more direct and longer, outside the perimeter, flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration supported this claim by identifying three-time blocks that are currently underutilized and can withstand 12 additional flights per hour.

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, travelers flying to and from Washington DC need better options.  Congress can make this happen by supporting this legislation to increase the number of long-distance and daily flights out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Increasing flight options to Reagan National will improve access to our nation’s capital and can potentially decrease pricing and travel time for travelers.

I urge Representative DesJarlais, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and Senator Bill Hagerty to support these efforts.

Ryan Egly is the President & CEO of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce located in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.

Wyoming Resident Supports Passage Of Direct Capital Access Act
Wyoming Tribune Eagle (Op-ed)
Amanda Henry
July 14, 2023

As a mom, business owner and current board member of the Riverton Chamber of Commerce, I understand what public policy opportunities can do for a community – particularly for our rural communities in Wyoming. That’s why I am proud to support the Direct Capital Access Act.

This is a bipartisan bill before Congress that would add more flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C. If passed, Wyoming residents would have more affordable access to the nation’s capital.

Travel to Washington, D.C., is too expensive for many in our community because of an outdated policy that limits long-distance flights out of DCA. A roundtrip flight from Casper to DCA can cost well over $1,000 and have two layovers. Wyoming residents should not be priced out of visiting our nation’s capital simply because of where they live.

More access to our nation’s capital is an economic positive for us. With more competition, airline ticket prices will drop, giving our families, students and business leaders the ability to visit Washington, D.C., and experience all it has to offer at prices that are affordable. It would also allow more East Coast travelers to visit our great state.

I thank U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., for her leadership in spearheading this bill in the Senate, and I hope Senator Barrasso and Representative Hageman join her in support. Wyomingites should not be overlooked in this debate. We deserve access, too.

Amanda Henry is a board member of the Riverton Chamber of Commerce.

Unlocking Access: Empowering Missouri Students To Reach Washington, D.C.
Missouri Times (Op-ed)
Trey Faucheux
July 13, 2023

There’s an important debate taking place in Congress regarding adding new flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). On the surface, it may seem like this would not impact Missouri students and families across our state, but it does.

At the heart of the discussion is whether to reform an outdated federal regulation known as the “perimeter rule,” which currently restricts flights to and from DCA beyond a 1,250-mile radius. It’s been in place for nearly 60 years, but the rule as it stands today is making travel to Washington, D.C., unnecessarily expensive because it has suppressed competition and limited choices for air travelers.

As a university student studying government and the president of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans, young people like myself understand the importance of having access to our policymakers. Today’s youth and future leaders are becoming increasingly more civically engaged, with dreams of shaping public policy. That’s why affordable access to Washington, D.C. is one of the most relevant policy discussions happening today.

But the federal government’s interference in the Washington, D.C. air travel market is limiting competition, leaving Missouri students with inflated ticket prices and long travel times because of inconvenient connections. Washington, D.C. is today the most expensive metropolitan area to fly into and out of, with Dulles International Airport (IAD) – the other airport in the region – holding the title of the most expensive airport. A ticket to IAD will cost Missourians an average of nearly $500.

The current perimeter rule undermines the principles of a free market. In a truly free market, there is healthy competition, which in turn drives down costs. This is how every other airport in the country operates, yet DCA is the only one bound by this anti-consumer regulation.

Senators Hawley and Schmitt and our entire Missouri delegation should support the bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3185 in the House and S. 1933 in the Senate, that would add new in- and beyond-perimeter flights to and from DCA and allow Missouri students to travel to our nation’s capital more easily and affordably.

Misinformation about adding new flights also needs to be corrected. New flights are not a threat to existing regional routes. The bill does not replace a current flight with a new one. On the contrary, it presents an opportunity for smaller hubs to potentially gain new service to DCA, like Columbia Regional Airport (COU), which serves many of the 23,000 students at the University of Missouri.

By boosting competition and creating more choice, students would benefit from improved affordability and access to our nation’s capital, paving the way to more educational and professional opportunities and allowing them to be a part of the democratic process.

Trey Faucheux is the president of the Missouri Federation of College Republicans.

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.