Record Levels Of Thanksgiving Air Travel Highlights Need For Modernizing 1960s-Era Perimeter Rule to Meet Increased Demand

Travelers Flying To And From National Capital Region Will Be Forced To Pay The Highest Prices In The Nation

Washington, D.C. – The Capital Access Alliance (CAA), a coalition of transportation and business leaders from Virginia and around the country seeking to make air travel to and from Washington, D.C. more accessible and affordable, released a statement following Airlines for America announcing they estimate an all-time high of 30 million air travelers over the Thanksgiving period – a nine percent increase from the previous year.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated they expect higher Thanksgiving travel levels than 2022. They project 49,606 flights to operate on November 22 and more than 44,000 flights on six other days over the week of Thanksgiving.

This includes record travel crowds predicted at Dulles International Airport (IAD). As Northern Virginia Magazine reports, “[T]he Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority [MWAA], which operates Dulles and Reagan National [DCA], recommends arriving two hours in advance for domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international flights.”

“‘Dulles International Airport is working diligently to ensure a seamless holiday travel season,’ said Richard Golinowski, vice president and airport manager. ‘As the fastest growing international gateway in the United States, we are dedicated to enhancing the travel experience for all passengers. Getting to Dulles is now more convenient than ever with Silver Line Metrorail service to the airport.’”

“By every metric Dulles International Airport continues to grow and that’s a good thing. But the record travel levels expected this holiday season only reinforce the need for Congress to modernize the outdated 1960s era perimeter rule that artificially limits domestic air travel at DCA so the national capital region can keep up with the growing demand,” said CAA spokesperson and Northern Virginia resident Brian Walsh. “Air travel in the Washington, D.C. region and throughout the country is surpassing pre-pandemic levels, and we must improve affordable access to and from the national capital region to better serve consumers. 

 “Because of limited competition and consumer choice, those looking to travel to or from the Washington, D.C. region this holiday season will be forced to pay the highest ticket prices in the nation and face longer travel times due to unnecessary connections. Congress can provide relief by adding a modest number of flights at DCA when they address the FAA Reauthorization bill in the coming weeks. Greater competition in the Washington, D.C. air travel market will ensure everyone traveling through the national capital region around the holidays can affordably and efficiently do so,” continued Walsh.

Opponents of modernizing the perimeter rule – namely United Airlines and MWAA – have argued that adding flights previously at DCA has caused additional delays. Walsh concludes, “Not only has FAA data confirmed that DCA can safely and effectively handle additional flights, a recent study found that both DCA and IAD are among the best and most reliable airports in the country for holiday travel. Both finished in the top four for on-time departures – clearly proving that opposition to modernizing the perimeter rule is really about protecting one airline’s grip on the Washington, D.C. market instead of helping consumers.”

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.