WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement ahead of a Senate Commerce Committee markup on legislation to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs:
“The single runway at DCA is already the most congested in the country. Ahead of the Senate Commerce Committee markup this morning, we want to be clear that we will strongly oppose any FAA reauthorization that expands the number of flights or passengers into and out of National. Any such expansion would disrupt the balance among the region’s airports and create additional delays and problems at National, an airport just one-fourteenth the size of Dulles.”
Acknowledging the physical limitations at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Congress has since 1986 restricted the number of nonstop flights that can originate out of DCA to airports outside of a 1,250-mile perimeter, while Washington Dulles International (IAD) was planned as the growth airport for the region’s aviation needs. However, in past FAA reauthorization bills, Congress has made changes to these rules that have disrupted the balance in this two-airport system by adding additional flights from Reagan to destinations outside the 1,250-mile perimeter. These changes in flight activity have produced significant stress on DCA’s facilities, from strained roadways and limited parking availability to overburdened baggage systems, and created frustrations for travelers, businesses, and local residents. Those changes have also prevented Dulles, whose size allows for larger planes to land and take off, from realizing its full potential as the primary long-haul flight destination for the Washington metropolitan area. In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine were joined by the two senators from Maryland in sending a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, which has responsibility for drafting legislation to reauthorize the FAA, strongly opposing any further changes at airports that serve residents of the National Capital Area. Sen. Warner, Kaine, Cardin, and Van Hollen also penned an op-ed yesterday urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the current slot and perimeter rules at DCA.