RELEASE: Capital Access Alliance Fact Checks More Misleading Claims On New Legislation To Modernize Outdated DCA Perimeter Rule

Encourages Opponents Of Modernizing 1960s-Era Regulation To Read New Bipartisan Legislation Introduced In U.S. House This Week

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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, responded today to a series of misleading claims made by area lawmakers regarding new bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House this week that would add 28 in- and beyond-perimeter daily flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the 2023 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.

“It’s unfortunate that some members of the Virginia congressional delegation either haven’t read the new bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House or are misleading their constituents in order to prevent air travelers from having more choices and lower ticket prices,” CAA spokesman and Northern Virginia resident Brian Walsh said today. “The reality is that under this new legislation, every airline currently at DCA would benefit equally and access to in-perimeter cities would not be negatively impacted. In fact, the additional flights proposed in this legislation would benefit both in and beyond-perimeter destinations. We continue to encourage every Member of Congress to study this issue closely and to support updating this antiquated federal regulation.”

DCA is the only airport in the country subject to a federally imposed perimeter rule, which was established by Congress in 1966, and places restrictions on how many flights can take off and land each day. Currently, only seven airlines are authorized to operate just 20 daily round trips to 10 beyond-perimeter destinations.


Lawmaker Claim/Myth: “The bill just proposed would go far beyond past attempts to expand slots at DCA, dangerously overloading the airport’s operational capacity to benefit one airline,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).” (The Washington Post, 5/10/2023)


  • First, the full text of the bipartisan Johnson-Owens legislation – The Direct Capital Access Act (The DCA Act) – can be read here.
    • As clearly stated in the text, every current airline at DCA would benefit equally under this legislation, meaning additional flights for United Airlines, American Airlines and others. We would encourage the media to ask Representative Beyer’s office to substantiate his claim that this legislation would “benefit one airline” when the legislative text clearly contradicts that statement.
  • Second, a new study outlined in specific detail how DCA is currently underutilized, particularly compared to other metropolitan airports, and has the capacity to add up to 90 additional flights per day. The DCA Act (Johnson-Owens bill) proposes less than one-third of those additional flights.
  • To further put this into perspective, in April more than 430 flights went in and out of DCA each day, meaning just 4.5 percent of DCA flights were “beyond perimeter.” Even if all 28 additional flights were authorized, and all were made long-distance, that would still mean that less than 10 percent of flights per day out of DCA are “beyond perimeter.”

Lawmaker Claim/Myth: Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) said the bill would harm the region’s airports. “This is a dangerously misguided bill that would cripple both DCA and Dulles airports – causing severe congestion and delays as well as canceling service options that make it harder for Americans to come to our nation’s capital region.” (The Washington Post, 5/10/2023)


  • As with Representative Beyer’s claim, we would encourage the media to ask Representative Wexton to substantiate her claim that modernizing the DCA perimeter rule and adding up to 28 additional flights will cancel existing service options and “make it harder for Americans to come to our nation’s capital region.”
  • There is no evidence for the claim that adding new flights will lead to airlines harming access to in-perimeter destinations. This appears to be an outdated and baseless talking point, which opponents of perimeter rule modernization have previously made.
  • As the new study outlines in specific detail and with substantiating data, adding additional flights at DCA will allow more than 2,000 daily passengers to be connected non-stop to beyond-perimeter markets and save consumers hard-earned dollars by lowering ticket prices through increased supply and competition, as well as create more than 1,000 new jobs and generate as much as $400 million of economic benefit to the Washington, D.C. region. 
  • In other words, Virginia lawmakers that oppose modernizing the perimeter rule are also inexplicably opposing the creation of more than 1,000 new local jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue for their own constituents in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  

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.