Buttigieg and Senators Oppose New Long-Haul Flights at Reagan Airport

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed concerns about the potential impact of adding five new long-haul flights at Ronald Reagan National Airport during a House Appropriation Committee hearing. He emphasized the potential “pressure” on the transportation system. This comes after a bill was introduced to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration for the next five years, which includes a provision allowing Reagan to have five more slots for long-haul flights. 


Local congressional members, including Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Ben Cardin, and Chris Van Hollen, have strongly opposed the additional flights, citing concerns over airport strain, traffic, and noise disruption. In a statement, they vowed to continue fighting against the provision, highlighting an internal FAA memo that projected increased delays and safety risks with the additional flights.

During the hearing, Rep. Ben Cline highlighted a recent near collision between two commercial flights at Reagan, underscoring safety concerns. Buttigieg acknowledged the airport’s high traffic and emphasized the role of Congress in determining slot availability.

Joining the opposition, Sen. Joe Manchin raised similar concerns, stating that adding the new flights would jeopardize passenger safety and increase delays and cancellations. He emphasized the importance of Reagan’s role in serving regional airports with shorter flights and smaller aircraft.

While some advocacy groups viewed the bill as a win for air travelers, concerns from lawmakers and officials remain. Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of business groups, expressed cautious optimism about the potential addition of new slots but anticipated further opposition from certain senators. They believe the addition of new slots would benefit air travelers and address outdated regulations that have limited competition in the national capital region.

In conclusion, the debate over adding five new long-haul flights at Ronald Reagan National Airport has sparked concerns about safety, delays, and airport strain among lawmakers and officials. While some see the provision as a positive development for air travelers, opposition from key senators and ongoing debates reflect the complexity of the issue.

Written by Staff Reports

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