Northern Virginia-Area Business Leader Urges Congress To Authorize Additional Flights At DCA In FAA Reauthorization Bill

“Prohibitive costs and complicated logistics of traveling to the region harms Northern Virginia tourism and our local businesses”

Washington, D.C. – Highlighting the strong support for additional flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) among Northern Virginia business leaders, My Lan Tran, executive director of the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce, published an op-ed in The Hill today urging Congress to authorize five additional slots at DCA as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.

Reflecting several polls that show most Virginians support more air travel choices at DCA and oppose efforts to limit competition by Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, Tran is the latest Virginia business leader to lend her voice in support of compromise legislation authored by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX.  Jennifer Aument, former chairwoman of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce (NVCC), former president and CEO for North America for Transurban and global transportation chief executive at AECOM, previously penned an op-ed in the Washington Business Journal outlining how the outdated 1966 federally imposed perimeter rule is harming the region’s transportation network and overall economic growth.

In her piece today, Tran points to the impact these flights would have on Northern Virginia businesses, specifically in the Asian-American community. There are more than 4,800 Asian American-owned small businesses in the Northern Virginia area. More flights at DCA will boost business development and enhance tourism, creating a ripple effect of economic benefits in the Commonwealth. Additionally, Tran highlights the support for these additional flights from current and former FAA officials.

The inclusion of this modest number of flights at DCA, which passed the U.S. Senate  Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s markup with unanimous support, will usher in competition into the Washington, D.C. air travel market, lower ticket prices and increase accessibility to our nation’s capital for all Americans.

Read the entire piece in The Hill HERE and below.

Congress Should Stop The FAA Holding Back DC’s Closest Airport 

The Hill

My Lan Tran

May 7, 2024

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, known by its airport code DCA, is by far the closest airport to downtown Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va., located just minutes away by train or car. It is convenient for business travelers, tourists and all others traveling to and from the national capital region. It goes without saying that DCA is a pivotal part of the local economy, and that strengthening affordable air travel to our region is key.

Unfortunately, DCA is subject to something called the “perimeter rule,” which was designed decades ago to artificially constrict air traffic at DCA and protect other airports in the region. Congress can remove this needless impediment and make life easier for locals and tourists alike through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has passed a bipartisan provision that would add five additional flights at DCA in its markup of the FAA Reauthorization bill. Virginia’s Congressional delegation and the full Congress should support including these flights in the final bill.

This is an opportunity for Virginia’s leaders to reassess and invigorate the region’s economic opportunities. It is a chance to catalyze more business development, not just for the commonwealth, but for the diverse businesses comprising its economic landscape, including those owned by Asian Americans.

It is imperative that we improve accessibility and convenience for all travelers who depend on our region’s airports. The Washington, D.C. area is served by two major airports — DCA and Dulles International Airport — but the latter is more than 20 miles away in Fairfax County. Some even resort to using Baltimore-Washington International in Maryland, but that’s almost 40 miles away.

Dulles serves our region well, but DCA’s location understandably makes it a more convenient option for tourists and business leaders who often have appointments on Capitol Hill.

The perimeter rule was actually created to protect growth at Dulles after it was built in the 1960s. Dulles has experienced substantial growth since it was created, including record growth in the last few years, adding numerous international and domestic flight routes. It is clear to anyone who has set foot in Dulles that the airport is not in need of protection anymore, thanks to the continuously growing population in Loudoun County and its status as a major regional and international hub.

DCA, meanwhile, remains the only airport in the country that is still constrained by a perimeter rule. It is limiting competition at DCA and forcing travelers from outside the perimeter, as well as Northern Virginia residents, to pay extremely high airfares and have much higher rates of connecting flights. This wastes valuable time, adds to travel costs and is a main reason the Washington, D.C. region ranks as the most expensive compared to other top metropolitan areas nationally. 

The prohibitive costs and complicated logistics of traveling to the region harms Northern Virginia tourism and our local businesses. This issue hits home for my organization, as more than 4,800 small businesses in the area are owned by Asian Americans, directly affecting our members and the broader business community across various industries. Recognizing the far-reaching consequences of this unnecessary restriction, we strongly support bringing the outdated perimeter rule into the modern era.

Aviation industry leaders, including acting FAA administrator Michael Whitaker, a former FAA administrator, and a 30-year aviation veteran and certified air traffic controller have publicly confirmed that the incremental addition of flights at DCA is indeed feasible and will be safe for travelers.

Congress can facilitate these changes by modernizing the perimeter rule and ensuring that an additional five inside-perimeter and beyond-perimeter flights at DCA are part of the FAA reauthorization bill. This would boost business development and enhance tourism in Potomac Yard and across the region, creating a ripple effect of economic benefits in Virginia.

My Lan Tran is executive director of the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce.

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.