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Proposal to add long distance flights at National Airport fails to take off

Washington Reagan National Airport (file photo)

A proposal to add long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport has officially failed, to the relief of area representatives who feared it would undermine Dulles International Airport.

The House of Representatives rejected the proposal — which was included in a package of changes to the Federal Aviation Administration’s policies that passed overall — by a 229-205 vote on Wednesday (July 19).

Pitched by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), the proposal, which would have increased the number of flights that travel beyond 1,250 miles from National Airport, attracted significant pushback from local and regional officials.

In late May, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said the move would increase flight delays and have a detrimental impact on the local economy, arguing that the Arlington airport lacks the capacity of Dulles Airport just over the Loudoun County border.

The legislation pushed by the Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of business groups, continues a long-running battle over slot and perimeter rules originally enacted in the 1960s.

Rep. Don Beyer (D) called the defeat of the proposal a win for the region.

“This strong bipartisan vote of opposition should make it clear, as the Senate takes up their own FAA authorization, that proposals to weaken DCA’s slot and perimeter rules do not have majority support in the Congress,” Beyer wrote in a statement.

Fairfax County Board Chairman Jeff McKay lauded the county’s congressional delegation for defeating the proposal.

“It’s clear that this would have been an intrusive and unwelcome addition to DCA and appreciate the bipartisan approach to supporting residents of Fairfax County,” McKay said.

The Board of Supervisors had argued that the proposed changes would disrupt the balance between the region’s two major airports.

Sen. Mark Warner said he was happy to see “sanity win” in the House.

“I’ll continue fighting these changes — which would exacerbate delays and ruin folks’ travel plans — as we consider this legislation in the Senate soon, too,” Warner tweeted.

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