Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) has been a hot political topic for decades. As Congress weighs loosening restrictions in this year’s FAA Reauthorization Bill, some are fighting back.
Senators from Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia have teamed up to vocally oppose any legislation that undermines the perimeter rule or loosens slot restrictions.
No member of Congress appreciates another representative meddling with the assets in their state or district. We, too, strongly oppose any attempts by other members to dictate operations at these airports for their own personal convenience at great cost to our communities and constituents.
Yes, but the District of Columbia and her assets are constitutionally controlled by Congress…
These lawmakers argue that traffic is up at DCA by 50% (they don’t specify by which metric) since 2000 and down by 9% at Washington Dulles over the same period. That figure is accurate — for domestic passenger traffic — but Dulles has also grown by adding international traffic. Still, part of their argument is that restrictions are needed to protect Dulles:
The impacts of additional modifications to existing law could financially destabilize Dulles International at a time when the airport is still recovering from previous slot and perimeter alterations and external economic factors.
I wrote about the DCA controversy last year and my thoughts have not changed much. I still question the necessity of the perimeter rule and equipment restrictions: the problem of congestion is more properly regulated by slot control alone.
It is tough to blame Members of Congress beyond the perimeter for wanting to loosen restrictions. After all, a 12-minute drive (to DCA) versus 45-minute drive (to IAD) makes a huge difference. Still, it just seems a bit sad that the primary reason for the proposed change is to cut down on the weekend commute for lawmakers…
(top photo courtesy of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority)