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MWAA: Senate, limit DCA flights

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority called on Congress to "honor the compact it has steadfastly kept with the National Capital Region" and preserve the character and ease of service at Reagan National Airport by abandoning a plan to increase long-distance flights out of National--a plan hatched by some Western lawmakers as part of legislation funding the Federal Aviation Administration and reported yesterday by the Post's Lisa Rein.

In a June 30 letter from MWAA to Sen. John Rockefeller, the authority's president and CEO wrote to the chairman of the transportation committee:

"These changes in flight activity could very well lead to congestion at Reagan National's terminals, parking facilities, and runways. We are very concerned that the significant proposed changes in flight rules will result in aircraft and passenger delays and added strain on security screening."

It reminds Congress that the legislative body conceived of the rules in 1987 to balance "the physical limitations to Reagan National with the growth potential of Washington Dulles," and of the "tremendous capital investment" made at Dulles to serve as the region's long-haul powerhouse.

Virginia's senators struggled to quash the plan in a bicoastal tug-of-war, while a flurry of local groups, including those representing homeowners who could hear the larger craft fly over head, piled on in their opposition.

A spokesperson for MWAA, which has jurisdiction over the region's airports, expressed opposition in yesterday's Post article, saying more long-distance, large-aircraft flights would "strain" security screening and increase delays.

But the letter affirms that the MWAA, the largest and most powerful group to voice opposition, is digging in and not afraid to speak out.

By Luke Rosiak  | July 8, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Airports  
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Jerks. Congress is a joke, they would jeopardize safety just so they don't have to be 'inconvenienced' by the chauffered drive to Dulles.

Posted by: 123cartoon | July 8, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Typical DC area resistance to change that borders on the pathological.

"Opposition" to virtually any variance from the status quo brings out resistance that isn't seen anywhere else in this country.

Do the colleges and universities in this region offer a major in "Opposition"?

Posted by: ceefer66 | July 8, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan National Airport should have been closed. The jet era made it noisy and unsafe, but Congress kept it open for their own convenience, regardless of its impact on the quality of life in DC and Virgina suburbs.

Posted by: ThrityYearResident | July 8, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Reagan National Airport could handle some more flights. I wish they would just allow at least 20 more slots a day. Especially late at night there aren't that many flights for people that work during the day. Getting to BWI by car is a nightmare on the parkway, and the MARC train doesn't run on weekends. Dulles itself is a hastle and takes so much time and effort to get to. I think the metro to it is terrible because there is no express train, it would take forever to get there. It would be nice if there was more competition at DCA and more options, without having too much congestion. Airlines also should be required to have larger aircraft on some routes, not just regional flights, so as to increase supply at this great close in airport.

Posted by: louisville64 | July 8, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Open the airport to all traffic.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 8, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps now our neighbors across the river will know what it's like to have strangers forcing their preferences on you, the way Congress does to DC every day. Would they like to join our quest for representation? Sorry, I have no sympathy, and would love transcontinental flights from an airport convenient for me.

Posted by: busgirl1 | July 8, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Some of the loudest commercial aircraft flying today are those used for short-haul flights like the MD-88. Most airlines would use the same planes that currently fly from Reagan to NYC, Charlotte, or Atlanta to fly to places like Denver or Seattle. There's no inherent reason to keep flights restricted to the East Coast anymore. If you need restrictions, make it by plane size or by noise level, not by distance.

Posted by: chrisny2 | July 8, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with louisville64 and anarcho-liberal-tarian.
Dulles is inconvenient for a lot more people than Congress. It's not convenient for most of NoVa to get to.
Its ridiculous that a central airport like National has such limited use. A few more west coast flights aren't going to make much difference to anyone except people who use the airport! Because they would be added to flights already going in & out of this area, maybe the price of those flights will even go down.
I really hope that Congress gets a little bit of room to expand the number of west coast flights. I'd book those flights!

Posted by: dcombs001 | July 8, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

More late night flights? Are you mad? Just because some Senators fooled the public and collected a lot of money from special-interest lobbyists and got themselves elected, they think they should be able to fly in and out of DC at all hours of the day and night, without regard for who may be trying to sleep nearby? The noise from jets should not be allowed to go on overnight, it is not fair to the people of Northern Virginia. The rest of us poor slobs take the shuttle bus to BWI or Dulles, I am sure these fat cat Senators can manage to do the same!

Posted by: stellaguru | July 8, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

What this means is they don't want to hassle with a plane change.

NATIONAL airport is the only airport I use - and I just factor in plane changes.

Posted by: totallynext | July 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I would not mind a few more flights to the west coast as options. I already do factor in the fact I have to change planes which is easily overcome by not having to fight the traffic to Dulles along with remote parking/parking costs and long lines once inside. I don't mind BWI but I cannot book a flight that leaves before 9:30 a.m. in the morning without driving (which is an added headache). I love DCA; it is four Metro stops from my house, the lines are never overwhelming, the staff and people are usually very friendly, and I can leave 2 hours or less before my actual flight with no problem. Dulles or BWI require at least two additional hours factored in so switching planes is usually much easier than leaving from those two airports. Perhaps when the Metro is extended to Dulles I will rethink that option but the long lines and throngs of people must still be overcome. Until then, DCA is my airport of choice and one of the nicer ones I fly into and out of (and I fly once or twice a week).

Posted by: execdir | July 8, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? We need more flights out of Dulles (and I live 5 minutes from there). National is a terribly inconvenient airport for almost everyone in NoVa. Since you can only get there thru terrible traffic jams and HOV restricted highways. Lazy DC residents and politicians who can't drive the 30 minutes to Dulles is just shameful. As terrible an orgnziation as the MWAA is (and they totally screwed up the Dulles revitilazation plan) they are right about putting the right flights in the right place.

Posted by: Dulles1 | July 8, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: stellaguru "The rest of us poor slobs take the shuttle bus to BWI or Dulles, I am sure these fat cat Senators can manage to do the same!"

I don't know about you, but I'd LOVE not to have to take shuttle buses to BWI or Dulles. It's not just Senators who fly to the west-coast.

Posted by: Dulles1 "Dulles (and I live 5 minutes from there). National is a terribly inconvenient airport for almost everyone in NoVa. Since you can only get there thru terrible traffic jams and HOV restricted highways. Lazy DC residents and politicians who can't drive the 30 minutes to Dulles is just shameful. "

If you live 5 minutes from Dulles, of course you want more flights there. I live 5 minutes from National, so I want more flights here. Why is it "lazy" for me not to want to take an hour-long shuttle to Dulles (I don't have a car) but not "lazy" for you not to want to drive 30 minutes to National? We all want options close to where we live - but it doesn't make one any lazier than the other.

Posted by: chrisny2 | July 8, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Let the flights happen and let the people decide. It's called freedom.

Posted by: johnhopkinson2004 | July 8, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

The wholsesale nimby-ism and ridiciulous arguments made by these folks border on the pathalogical.


They aren't asking for MORE flights. The plan was to keep the SAME number of planes coming in and out of DCA on a daily basis, just to allow flights to end or originate at a greater distance.

Distance has nothing to do with "noise" or "congestion".

Perfect example of "you can't cure stupid".

Posted by: Nosh1 | July 9, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Dulles was concieved in an era of energy-wasting urban design, forcing local residents to spend enormous amounts of fuel and drive time just to get to the airport. National is the future of fuel-efficient urban infrastructure... We should embrace it.

Posted by: dougl1 | July 9, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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