Airlines Speak Out On Washington National Airport Perimeter Rule Change

DALLAS – The CEOs of American (AA), Alaska (AS) and United Airlines (UA) have issued a statement opposing the proposed changes to slot and perimeter rules at Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA).

In the statement, the bosses said that the alterations to DCA’s operations would ‘dramatically increase passenger delays and erode the operational integrity of the airport.’

In 1966, US Congress passed the DCA perimeter rule, which saw restrictions to the number of long-distance flights over a 1,250 miles radius allowed from the airport. Currently, just 20 daily round trips to ten routes over the perimeter to and from DCA are operated by seven airlines.

Now, a proposed bill known as the Direct Capital Access Act of 2023 proposes adding 28 new in and around the perimeter slots at DCA. This has been supported by the Delta Air Lines (DL)-led Capital Access Alliance (CAA) group.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s Terminal B/C and the 201 ft (61.27 m) control tower, designed by architect César Pelli. Photo: dbkingCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cheaper Airfares Promised

However, the Washington area has some of the highest domestic ticket prices. Neighbouring Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) has recently been named the most expensive in the country. According to the CAA, the relaxation of the rule would allow for cheaper airfares.

”We strongly oppose changes to the slot and perimeter rules at Reagan National Airport (DCA). The Federal Aviation Administration and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority have expressed serious concerns that adding flights at DCA will dramatically increase passenger delays and erode the operational integrity of the airport. Furthermore, inclusions of these provisions endanger timely passage of critical FAA Reauthorization legislation to improve safety and efficiency of air travel for the entire system.”

The statement from the three CEOs Robert Isom (AA), Ben Minicucci (AS), and Scott Kirby (UA).

Another opponent of the new act is the Coalition to Protect America’s Regional Airports (CPARA). The group has argued that the changes could lead to airlines removing vital connecting flights from smaller regional airports in favour of offering longer non-stop connections from DCA.

Featured Image: N874NN American B737-800 KDCA DCA (Potomac approach/river visual). Photo: Jinyuan Liu/Airways.

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