Today, Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04) and Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced The Direct Capital Access (DCA) Act, legislation to add 28 additional in- and beyond-perimeter flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in the 2023 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill.
Congress restricted air traffic at DCA in the 1960s — in part to encourage airlines to grow their long-distance flight options from the then-newly built Washington Dulles International Airport in then-rural Virginia — by creating perimeter rule limits. With few exceptions, the perimeter rule limits the distance that incoming and outgoing flights can travel at DCA to no more than 1,250 miles. As it stands, the perimeter rule is making travel to the Washington, D.C. region more expensive and less convenient for consumers, businesses, and communities. DCA remains the only airport in the country that is still bound by this outdated federal regulation that caps the number of flights farther than 1,250 miles.
“When a federal regulation becomes so outdated that it unnecessarily hurts American consumers and arbitrarily burdens our nation’s economic growth, it’s time for Congress to act,” said Rep. Burgess Owens. “DCA is the only airport in the country stuck with a 60-year-old federal law that restricts the number of nonstop flights beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter, making our nation’s capital one of the most expensive destinations for travelers. Modernizing the perimeter rule will improve access to Washington, D.C., reduce airline ticket prices, and increase tax revenue for the area. I am proud to introduce The DCA Act to ensure that families in my district and across the country–especially those in rural and western regions–have the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital.”
“By limiting the number of flights in and out of National Airport, we are squeezing consumers – they are the ones paying the price,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a senior member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “Travelers who want to visit the capital region face the most expensive domestic ticket prices compared to other major markets because of limited competition. The DCA Act will help alleviate that pressure on consumers and the flying public.”
“Government by the people should be accessible by the people,” said Sen. Mike Lee. “I’m proud to support Representatives Owens and Johnson’s efforts to expand the number of flights out of Reagan National Airport. More options will reduce ticket prices and generate millions in economic benefits, making our nation’s capital more accessible and affordable for all Americans.”
“I am proud to join the push for more flights connecting Utahns and our fellow western Americans to our nation’s capital,” said Rep. Blake Moore. “The perimeter rule at DCA has proven to be outdated and no longer necessary, and allowing more flights will positively impact the west’s economy, tourism, and family travel.”
“We commend Representatives Owens and Johnson for their leadership in working to modernize this outdated federal regulation,” said Capital Access Alliance. “Washington, D.C. is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, our nation’s capital and the seat of our government, yet affordable access to the capital region is still out of reach for millions of Americans, particularly in western states, because of this federally imposed rule. Increasing the number of flights to and from DCA each day will benefit countless communities and consumers by making air travel more efficient and affordable.”
“The Salt Lake City International Airport supports efforts to enhance flights into and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport through an increase in the slot exemptions,” said Bill Wyatt, executive director, Salt Lake City International Airport.
The full text of the legislation is available here.