RELEASE: Members Of Capital Access Alliance Send Letter To Congress Urging Support For Bipartisan Legislation To Improve Affordable Airline Access To Washington, D.C.

CAA Also Releases New Analysis Demonstrating DCA Has Capacity To Add More Flights Based On FAA’s Own Data

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, sent a letter today signed by nearly 50 organizations to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, urging members to support H.R. 3185, the bipartisan Direct Capital Access Act (The DCA Act), which would add 28 in- and beyond-perimeter flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). 

“Our diverse and growing coalition underscores how impactful modernizing the 1960s era perimeter rule will be for local businesses, students, tourists and all the people across the country who need stronger direct access to Washington, D.C.,” said CAA spokesperson Brian Walsh. “Ninety-five percent of markets beyond the perimeter are currently underserved. This important legislation will give consumers more choices and make air travel to Washington, D.C. more affordable, especially for minority and underrepresented communities. Lawmakers should prioritize updating this outdated policy and support The DCA Act.”

Read the full letter HERE and below.

CAA also released a new three-page analysis memo today, based on data directly from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), that demonstrates DCA has the capacity to add more flights, which contradicts information from a recent unsigned FAA memo that was leaked to the media. The publicly available data also flatly contradicts statements from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and United Airlines that DCA is operating at full capacity. 

You can read the full analysis HERE

MWAA officially partnered with United Airlines last week to launch a new political organization aimed at blocking efforts in Congress to add more flights out of DCA that would give air travelers more choices and lower ticket prices.  United and United Express currently operate roughly 70 percent of the flights at Dulles International Airport (IAD), which last week topped a new list as the most expensive airport in the country to depart from. 

Based on the FAA’s own data, CAA’s memo outlines at least three time blocks each day where DCA is currently operating under capacity.  These three underutilized time blocks have an average capacity of an additional 12 flights per hour, which would more than accommodate the 28 additional flights that would be authorized under the bipartisan legislation currently under consideration by Congress. 

“This latest analysis reinforces the findings of one of the country’s top management consulting firms and makes clear that adding more flights would not add unnecessary delays at DCA. Airlines would work with the FAA, just as they do at other airports, to schedule additional flights during slower time periods instead of surge peak time periods,” Walsh said today. “It also makes clear, based on the FAA’s own data, that claims by MWAA that DCA is operating at full capacity, are simply not accurate.  As with their new partnership with United, these misleading public statements raise the question of who MWAA is really looking out for because it doesn’t appear to be air travelers struggling with high ticket prices.” 

June 5, 2023

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Senator Cantwell, Senator Cruz, Representative Graves and Representative Larsen,

We are members of the Capital Access Alliance (CAA), a growing coalition seeking to strengthen access to our nation’s capital through more affordable and efficient air travel. We are writing today to ask for your support in adding more flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in this year’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act.

We represent minority, underrepresented and marginalized communities from around the country who would benefit from better access to Washington, D.C. This includes students who are learning about our government and Washington, D.C.’s rich history, and businesses and advocacy organizations who require direct communication with the federal policymakers who shape the policies that impact them.

The demand for access to the national capital region is greater than ever. However, the federally imposed “perimeter rule” established by Congress nearly 60 years ago and in a very different era is both suppressing competition and making travel to our nation’s capital more costly and inefficient, particularly for members of underserved communities.

Ninety-five percent of beyond-perimeter markets are underserved, including many states our organizations call home. That is because less than six percent of daily flights scheduled at DCA are authorized to fly beyond the perimeter. Fewer direct choices have a detrimental impact on travelers. A recent study shows that Washington, D.C., has the most expensive flights of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the U.S., and that beyond-perimeter travelers have to make at least one connecting flight. For far too many in minority and underrepresented communities, these factors prevent real barriers in visiting Washington, D.C.

The bipartisan Direct Capital Access Act – or The DCA Act – will update the perimeter rule and improve affordable access. The bill will add 28 in- and beyond-perimeter flights at DCA, helping to boost competition, lower ticket prices and put Washington, D.C. within reach for millions more Americans.

The diversity of support for this effort clearly demonstrates its importance and potential impact. Who you are, where you come from and your socioeconomic status should not be a barrier to traveling to our nation’s capital. We must do everything we can to make the nation’s capital more accessible to all Americans, and we urge you to support legislative efforts to help meet that goal.


American Latino Veterans Association
Baptists Ministers Conference of Los Angeles
The Borderplex Alliance
Breakfast Group
California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
California Hotel and Lodging Association
Coalition of California Chambers Orange County
Connoisseur Travel
Crystal Parking
Delta Air Lines
Economic Alliance of Lewis County
El Paso Chamber
El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
El Paso International Airport
Greater Albuquerque Chamber
Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco
Hola Mexico Film Festival
Junior Achievement of Southern California
Laguna Hills Chamber of Commerce
Latin Business Association
Latino Restaurant Association
Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce
National Diversity Coalition
North San Antonio Chamber
Northern Virginia Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce
Omega World Travel
Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association
Portland Business Alliance
Salt Lake Chamber
San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
San Jose Chamber of Commerce
San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce
Seattle Latino Film Festival
Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California
Stemtac Foundation
Travel Portland
U.S. Pakistani International Chamber of Commerce
Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity
Utah Tourism Industry Association
Valley Industry and Commerce Association
Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce
Washington Build Back Black Alliance