RELEASE: CAA Launches New Website Fact Checking False Claims Against Improving Affordable Access To National Capital Region
Corrects The Record Following Launch Of Coalition Aimed At Protecting The Status Quo
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, today announced the launch of ProtectRegionalAirportsFacts.com, a new website that outlines the facts about modernizing the 1960s era perimeter rule and adding more flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
This new site addresses the multiple misleading claims being put forward by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which has partnered with United Airlines on the new organization, “The Coalition to Protect America’s Regional Airports,” aimed at blocking less costly and more accessible flights. The new website also includes a recap of when United Airlines ran a similar playbook a few years earlier when it tried to block new competition in Houston.
“Unfortunately, those opposing modern changes to the outdated perimeter rule are basing their arguments on fear instead of facts,” CAA spokesman and Northern Virginia resident Brian Walsh said today. “The language in H.R. 3185, the bipartisan Direct Capital Access Act (The DCA Act), clearly states that 28 in- and beyond-perimeter direct flights would be added at DCA. Regional airports are being misled to believe that their service is at risk, when in reality, they only stand to benefit from this bill through stronger direct service to and from DCA. The DCA Act will protect consumers by boosting competition and lowering prices within the air travel market, while maintaining the perimeter rule as-is will only protect the status quo of fewer options and higher airfare.”
Notably, even though the new coalition claims to support safeguarding regional airports from disrupted service, just three of its regional airport members actually have service to DCA – which begs the question if the effort is truly about protecting regional airports or protecting the interests of a single airline.
United Airlines has a track record of using fear as a tactic, as they actively fought against Southwest Airlines’ proposal to add new international routes at the William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in 2012. United Airlines claimed that service to certain routes would become unprofitable and even threatened to cut service to cities Southwest Airlines didn’t serve. They ultimately lost the fight and later reversed course by expanding their service. Read more HERE.
Setting the record straight:
FALSE CLAIM: The DCA Act would threaten existing flights to in-perimeter destinations and smaller, regional airports.
- THE TRUTH: The DCA Act would ADD an additional 28 in- and beyond-perimeter flights from DCA. The bill does not replace or eliminate any existing routes, but rather adds more options for consumers to choose from. In reality, every destination, in markets both in- and beyond-the perimeter, has the potential for more direct flights.
FALSE CLAIM: DCA is already operating at maximum capacity.
- THE TRUTH: A study by one of the country’s top management consulting firms found that DCA has enough capacity to handle as many as 90 additional flights per day. What The DCA Act proposes adding is less than one-third of that. In fact, even in a November 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, “[T]here are currently 39 total daily unallocated slots available for commercial airlines at Reagan National … [it] is also operating well below the 12 maximum authorized hourly reservations for general aviation aircraft. Our review of FAA data for July through August of 2019 found that, on average, fewer than one general aviation reservation was used each hour (or almost 13 per day).”
FALSE CLAIM: Changes to the perimeter rule would make air travel more expensive for the D.C. region.
- THE TRUTH: The same study found that Washington, D.C. already has the most expensive domestic ticket prices among the country’s top 10 metropolitan areas because supply is not meeting demand. Modernizing the perimeter rule and adding more flights would lower ticket prices by as much as $60 per passenger because of increased competition among airlines. It’s basic economics.
FALSE CLAIM: Congress shouldn’t “meddle” with airports that aren’t in their state or district.
- THE TRUTH: This is an argument against the perimeter rule, and not for it. Congress established the perimeter rule in 1966, and it was Congress that expanded DCA’s non-stop service to 1,250 statute miles in the mid-1980s. If DCA operated like every other airport in the country, Congress would not be involved in the first place and both DCA and Dulles International Airport (IAD) would be operating in a free and competitive environment with air travelers having more accessible and affordable choices both to and from our nation’s capital. It should be noted that the majority of Virginia residents, many of whom prioritize flying into and out of DCA, support modernizing the perimeter rule, and Northern Virginia residents oppose the current rule by a two-to-one margin.
Get the facts at ProtectRegionalAirportsFacts.com.
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.