Senators from Maryland and Virginia indicated Monday they would oppose the chamber’s Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill if it adds long-distance flight slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, saying the airport is already at capacity. .
Under a perimeter rule Congress set in the 1960s, National is a short-haul airport, limited to flights within 1,250 miles with some exceptions. Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland opposed the proposals from Delta Air Lines Inc. flight slots to the airport and 28 out, a total of 56.
Senators said at a news conference Monday at National that the extra flights would overload an airport already at capacity and siphon off customers from Washington Dulles International Airport, which has no flight restrictions but is located about 30 miles from downtown Washington. The national is less than 5 miles away.
Advocates for more slots and perimeter exemptions at National, such as Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation ranking member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are seeking to add them to the chamber’s FAA reauthorization bill, which could be marked up by the panel next week. week. . Warner, Kaine, Cardin and Van Hollen said the issue could slow down the passage of the bill.
“To add 56 more flights, it’s going to upset all the balances that are maintained by operating the airports the way they’re currently operating,” Kaine said. “We’re going to do an FAA bill, and we’re not going to hide that important priority from members of Congress, who frankly aren’t experts on this, thinking they can micromanage something they don’t really understand.”