RELEASE: CAA Applauds Introduction Of Bipartisan Legislation In U.S. Senate To Improve Affordable Air Travel To Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senators Warnock & Lummis Announce Bill That Will Add New Flights At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Washington, D.C. – The Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of transportation and business leaders from around the country seeking to make air travel to and from Washington, D.C. more accessible and affordable, today applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate by Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). This bipartisan bill would authorize 28 additional in- and beyond-perimeter flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which would give air travelers more choices at lower prices, while protecting existing regional air service at DCA.   

Today’s bill is similar to legislation (H.R. 3185), the bipartisan Direct Capital Access Act (The DCA Act), introduced last month in the U.S. House by Congressmen Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Burgess Owens (R-UT), which would also add 14 to 28 in- and beyond-perimeter flights at DCA. Both bills are additive measures and would not eliminate or replace any current regional routes – meaning that travelers and airports both inside and outside of the perimeter would have an opportunity for more direct flights to and from DCA.

Demonstrating the growing bipartisan support this issue is receiving in Congress, 10 members of the U.S. House, led by Reps. Owens and Johnson, also held a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning to outline the importance of modernizing the DCA perimeter rule this year.

“We applaud Senators Warnock and Lummis for leading the effort in the U.S. Senate to modernize the outdated perimeter rule and improve access to the nation’s capital region.  This is pro-consumer legislation aimed at making air travel more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans around the country,” said CAA spokesperson Brian Walsh.

Today’s Senate bill introduction comes on the heels of an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal today by the former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta, appointed by President Obama, who wrote in support of modernizing the 1960s-era perimeter rule. Millions of Americans would benefit from lower ticket prices, less time on connecting flights and greater access to America’s capital city. Fundamentally, the only reason to oppose modernizing the perimeter rule is to protect some airlines from competition. That motivation certainly still exists in Washington today, to the detriment of fliers. If the status quo prevails, consumers will continue to pay the price through higher airfares and fewer travel options,” Huerta wrote. 

new analysis of data from the FAA shows that contrary to claims from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which recently partnered with United Airlines to protect its competitive advantage at Dulles, DCA is underutilized and there are at least three low-volume periods where DCA can add more flights. Each of these three periods have an average capacity of an additional 12 flights per hour. If Congress approves additional flights, airlines would work with the FAA, as they do at all airports, to determine when to safely schedule them. 

The 1960s era perimeter rule has resulted a severe lack of competition within the Washington, D.C. air travel market. Only 20 daily roundtrips from DCA travel to beyond-perimeter destinations, which account for less than six percent of DCA’s daily departures. Washington D.C. has the highest domestic airline ticket prices among all major metro areas in the country and Dulles International Airport (IAD) was recently named “the most expensive airport in the country” with an average domestic ticket price of almost $500.  

“Boosting competition among airlines will give consumers, both near and far, more affordable choices when they travel. As Congress prepares to vote on the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act in the coming months, we strongly urge the full U.S. Senate to include this important bipartisan measure in the broader legislation,” said Walsh.

The Senate bill was introduced on a big day on Capitol Hill, as DCA Act co-sponsors and supporters held a press conference and CAA ran a full-page ad in the Washington post, signed by nearly 60 members of our coalition.

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.