Fifteen Members of Congress ask Colleagues to cease requesting DCA Perimeter Exemptions—six suggestions to make these requests impact the “beneficiaries” equally to the DMV burden

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D.C. Area Lawmakers to Colleagues: Leave Our Airport Alone

DMV Coalition asks Colleagues 

Don’t add Exemptions to DCA Perimeter Rule

A petition signed by 15 Members of Congress– U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), A. Don McEachin (D-VA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Anthony Brown (D-MD), John Delaney (D-MD) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)—wrote to the colleagues asking them to refrain from adding new destinations to the FAA-imposed Perimeter Rule.

 

The Perimeter Rule is “actually a federal regulation established in 1966 (49 U.S. Code § 49109) when jet aircraft began operating at Reagan National.  The initial Perimeter Rule limited non-stop service to/from Reagan National to 650 statute miles, with some exceptions for previously existing service.  By the mid-1980s, Congress had expanded Reagan National non-stop service to 1,250 statute miles.  Ultimately, Reagan National serves primarily as a “short-haul” airport while Washington Dulles International Airport serves as the region’s “long-haul” growth airport.”

The rule was justified by the proprietor of DCA and Dulles International Airport, the FAA, based on the need to balance the operations between the two airports—National to serve the short haul traffic and the relatively new IAD to be the airport of long haul flights. The airport, minutes from downtown DC, has runways more suitable for the aircraft operating in those segments. Further, the agency’s rational also noted that the longer-range airplanes are usually noisier.

Since then Congress, in an effort to provide their constituents (and themselves), would legislate exceptions to the Perimeter Rule. Congress has proposed and approved federal legislation to allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue “beyond-perimeter” exemptions which allows an airline to operate non-stop service to cities outside the perimeter.  As a result of recent federal exemptions, non-stop service is now offered between Reagan National and the following cities:

  1. Austin,
  2. Denver,
  3. Las Vegas,
  4. Los Angeles,
  5. Phoenix,
  6. Salt Lake City,
  7. San Francisco,
  8. San Juan,
  9. Seattle

and

  1. Portland, Ore

The result of this increased traffic is greater impact on the DCA neighbors, many of who are represented by the fifteen Member signatories to the letter.

With that history, might the Wise Fifteen Members add to the FAA Reauthorization Act provision(s) such as:

  1. Requiring that the addition of another City exemption triggers a NEPA review of that federal action?
    • That would create an interesting public review!!!
    • Require that the Member of Congress sponsoring the exemption attend the NEPA hearings at DCA.
  2. Compel that the incremental noise at DCA be assigned to the airport benefitted by the exemption?
    1. The impact of the service to DCA should be assigned to the City exempted.
  3. Require, as a predicate for any exemption for A to DCA, that the load factors between A and IAD exceed 90%.
  4. Any amendment for an Exemption from the Perimeter Rule must specify existing flight(s) to be deleted before the new Flight(s) to DCA can be added.
  5. Any Member of Congress, whose exemption to the Perimeter Rule is enacted, may no longer fly to Washington on any Part 135 or Part 91 flight. He/She must fly coach thereafter on all flights to DCA/IAD/BWI!!!
  6. Any Member, who sponsors a Perimeter Rule exemption, forfeits her/his parking spot at Reagan National and must take the Metro to/from these flights.

The Members’ letter, sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration, tried to explain that while the Exemptions may benefit their Colleagues’ district, these legislative interventions impacted the DMV:

“No member of Congress appreciates another representative meddling with the assets in their state or district…We, too, strongly oppose any attempts by other members to dictate operations at these airports for their own personal convenience at great cost to our communities and constituents.”

The above 6 suggestions might bring home the point—Your Exemption impacts our Constituents—STOP!!!



 

 

 

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2 Comments on "Fifteen Members of Congress ask Colleagues to cease requesting DCA Perimeter Exemptions—six suggestions to make these requests impact the “beneficiaries” equally to the DMV burden"

  1. Edward S Faggen | April 16, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Reply

    The rules, originally informal, that controlled activity at DCA and IAD worked well for more than 40 years. The perimeter rule has been much more about allocating traffic between the two airports than it about noise at DCA. That is, it was more about business at Dulles. The airport was built for the long haul aircraft and it makes little sense to keep packing traffic into overcrowded DCA. The game was lost at DCA when as a consequence of the AA / USAirways merger American had to divest a considerable number slots the bulk of which went to carriers who used them to move flights out of Dulles and into DCA. DCA today is at record activity levels, levels not anticipated by those rules. The local delegations should try again to hold the perimeter line, but really it seems already too late.

  2. Sandy Murdock | April 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Reply

    Ed–
    Thanks for the useful historical comment.

    I think that we agree “The rule was justified by the proprietor of DCA and Dulles International Airport, the FAA, based on the need to balance the operations between the two airports—National to serve the short haul traffic and the relatively new IAD to be the airport of long haul flights. The airport, minutes from downtown DC, has runways more suitable for the aircraft operating in those segments. Further, the agency’s rational also noted that the longer-range airplanes are usually noisier.”
    The point of this post was to suggest to the DMV delegation legislative amendments which would cause the cities benefitting from the exemption to feel the pain of the citizens who live in the DCA flight patterns.
    I bet that you have some even more pointed ideas to let the Members feel the consequences of placing their constituents’ interest over the people of this region.

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