Lee: United Airlines opposing Reagan National expansion to protect Dulles hub

Lee: United Airlines opposing Reagan National expansion to protect Dulles hub | The Hill

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Greg Nash

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) speaks to reporters about amendments following a lunch with Senate Republicans on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) argued Wednesday that United Airlines’s opposition to the expansion of Reagan National Airport (DCA) in the Washington, D.C., area is an effort to limit competition.

“.@UnitedAirlines_ is lobbying against competition—for blatantly anticompetitive reasons,” the senator wrote on his personal Twitter account. He shared a post from the coalition Capital Access Alliance that suggests the opposition is an effort from United to “limit competition and protect their monopoly” at Dulles International Airport (IAD) nearby.

“Consumers suffer when greedy companies use stupid laws to shield themselves from competition. The DCA perimeter rule is such a law … @UnitedAirlines_ is such a company,” Lee wrote, adding that Alaska Airlines is “also in on the action.” The Utah senator tagged a Twitter parody account for United in his thread, but he has tagged the company’s official handle in other posts on the issue.

The CEOs of United, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines released a statement Wednesday opposing changes to the DCA Perimeter and Slot Rules, federal regulations that have limited nonstop service to and from the airport, as well as the number of flights. 

“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,” the CEOs wrote. 

“Furthermore, inclusion of these provisions endangers timely passage of critical FAA Reauthorization legislation to improve the safety and efficiency of air travel for the entire system,” they wrote. 

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, on the other hand, said in a statement that his airline “supports the modernization of this nearly 60 year old rule” and applauded the Congressional push.

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D), together with Maryland Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Ben Cardin (D), penned an op-ed in The Washington Post that published Wednesday to oppose changes in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that would revise slot and perimeter rules at DCA.

The senators argue that the proposed changes “overlook that [DCA] is part of a system” with Dulles International Airport in Virginia and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland.

“Messing with this delicate balance is a bad idea. It would cause longer lines and more delays at DCA, more noise for nearby residents — and economic losses along the Dulles corridor in Northern Virginia as well as in the BWI business district,” the senators wrote.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is set to vote Thursday on the FAA Reauthorization Act.

The Hill has reached out to United for comment on Lee’s Twitter thread.

Tags Alaska Airlines american airlines Ben Cardin Burgess Owens Chris Van Hollen DCA Ed Bastian Hank Johnson Mark Warner Mike Lee Reagan National Airport Tim Kaine United Airlines

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