D.C. Airport Proposal Hangs Up FAA Reauthorization

D.C. Airport Proposal Hangs Up FAA Reauthorization

As lawmakers scramble to finish an agreement on a major aviation bill, a Republican proposal to expand long-distance flights at Washington’s closest airport is proving to be a significant speed bump.

The Virginia and Maryland delegations in the Senate are pushing back against a proposal Republicans have floated that calls for an additional 10 long-distance slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, plus four additional flights to Texas. Western lawmakers in particular often seek to expand this number because National is a quick four miles from the Capitol complex.

Current law restricts the number of flights at the airport, with only 24 permitted each day to go beyond a 1,250-mile perimeter.
The proposal, said to be spearheaded by Sen. Jon Kyl , R-Ariz., whose office did not respond to requests for comment, also would allow carriers flying from National to a large hub airport within the perimeter to convert that flight into one outside the perimeter.
It would make 48 of these conversions available, allocated proportionate to each airline’s number of flights at National. A Senate Democratic aide said this would significantly benefit US Airways, considering its strong presence.

The proposal appears to be a combination of several Republican amendments offered to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (HR 1586) during debate on the Senate floor. Most were not voted on at the time in favor of continuing discussions.

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