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Sun, Jun 04, 2023

Coalition Formed In Defense of America’s Regional Airports

Communities and Industry Unite

Stakeholders including airports, chambers of commerce, businesses, and community organizations throughout the United States have united for purpose of giving rise to the Coalition to Protect America’s Regional Airports (CPARA)—a nationwide coalition dedicated to the protection and preservation of America’s regional airports and the critical role played by such in connecting U.S. communities, creating American jobs, and supporting U.S. regional economies.

CPARA, by charter, strongly opposes changes to Reagan National Airport’s (DCA) High Density (slot) and perimeter rules. What’s more, CPARA contends airport authorities working in concert with local communities and lawmakers are better-suited than federal regulators to make the key operational decisions by which airports—and by extension, air-travel—are rendered safer, more convenient, and increasingly sustainable.

Scott K. York, coalition director and executive director of the committee for Dulles Airport, stated: “If the slot and perimeter rules are removed or changed, airlines will be incentivized to replace routes that promote and sustain nationwide connectivity with longer-haul, more profitable flights. These lost connections will have a significant impact on the local communities that rely on regional airports for economic development as well as safe and convenient travel. However, not only will this have a negative impact on regional airports, but these proposed changes will have a profound negative effect on both Reagan National Airport and the surrounding community. Congress should instead be focused on passing the FAA Reauthorization bill, which is desperately needed by the entire aviation industry and the traveling public, who are using the nation’s aviation system at historic levels.”

CPARA warns that arbitrarily changing slot and perimeter rules stands to occasion demonstrable, disproportionate, and disruptive economic impact on regional airports within the perimeter, as well as the communities and businesses reliant thereupon. Every additional exemption beyond the perimeter threatens access to both DCA and Dulles International Airport (IAD) for smaller in-perimeter cities and communities that connect to, or through, Washington D.C.

Moreover, as DCA is currently operating at capacity, even small changes to extant slot and perimeter rules instantiate the risk of seriously overburdening the airport and adversely impacting the safety of travelers passing through such.

Among the thirty busiest U.S. airports, DCA’s cancellation rate is the worst. An FAA study determined approximately twenty-percent of DCA departures and arrivals are delayed by an average of 67-minutes. The FAA estimates the addition of twenty round-trip flights to DCA’s current daily operations would increase existing delays to nearly ninety-minutes.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) president and CEO Jack Potter set forth: “DCA’s slot and perimeter rules were carefully designed to promote safety, ease airport congestion, and reduce traffic around the geographically constrained airport. The nation’s Capital Region is served by three airports that work in tandem.”

A CPARA analysis demonstrated the proposed changes would increase DCA’s daily passenger through-traffic by more than nine-thousand passengers—thereby imparting further strain to terminals, gates, parking lots, roads, and nearby streets and highways already operating beyond their design capacities.

Were subject changes codified, DCA would struggle in perpetuity against a yearly workload 12.6-million-passengers greater than the facility was designed to safely service, process, and regulate. Notions of expanding the airport are at best mistaken and at worst willfully apocryphal insomuch as DCA is bound north, east, and south by the Potomac River, and west by the urban sprawl of Pentagon City and the Aurora Highlands.

CPARA maintains Congress ought desist in its protracted and intensifying campaign to eliminate America’s regional airports and focus, rather, on mitigating prevailing pilot and air traffic controller shortages.



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