Maryland, Virginia Democrats push back on any new long-haul flights to Reagan National

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A group of Democratic senators representing Maryland and Virginia wrote a letter pushing back on adding any long-haul fights to the “already overburdened” Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
The letter thanked the chairs and ranking members of transportation committees in both the House and the Senate for their work on a bipartisan Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.
The Democrats share concerns in the letter about the strains on the country’s aviation system and the urgency to address it, but said they are writing “to express our profound opposition to any changes to the slot and perimeter rules” at DCA.
Last July, the House voted to reject an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that would have added seven daily roundtrip flights to the airport, which is a major hub for members of Congress. The airport does not offer nonstop service outside a 1,250-mile radius under the so-called “DCA Perimeter Rule,” per federal regulation. There are some exceptions, including flights to and from Austin, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.
The group criticized the Senate Commerce Committee, which approved an amendment last week to add 10 additional flights to the airport.
“As the House and the Senate work toward a final reauthorization bill, we urge you to reject any proposal to add additional flights at an overburdened DCA, which would negatively impact service and increase delays and cancelations for all passengers traveling to and from the airport,” the letter read.
The group argued that the airport was designed to accommodate 15 million passengers, but it is on pace to serve 25 million travelers this year. The extra 10 million travelers have strained the airport’s resources. The group also noted the airport had the third-worst cancellation rate among the country’s busiest airports in 2022.
“It should go without saying that the safety of the flying public must be our primary focus, particularly as a number of high-profile incidents and near-misses have brought home in a concrete way the need to safeguard the complex and interconnected infrastructure that keeps the National Airspace System Safe,” the letter said. “Adding ten additional flights into an already overburdened airport is directly contrary to this goal.”
Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) signed the letter.

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