Norton Leads National Capital Region Letter to GAO Opposing Changes to High Density and Perimeter Rules at Reagan National

Sep 24, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released a national capital region letter she led to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) strongly opposing changes to the current Slot and Perimeter rules that govern aircraft traffic at Reagan National Airport. GAO is conducting a study on the potential impacts of allowing exceptions to the Slot and Perimeter rules at Reagan National. Norton is a member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, a group of Members of Congress aiming for solutions to the increasing noise pollution associated with busy airports. The letter was joined by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Robert J. Wittman (R-VA), Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr., (D-VA), Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Rep. David Trone (D-MD).

Norton said that while Washington Dulles International Airport was built to accommodate increases in air traffic, Reagan National is in a higher-density area with greater physical limitations that cannot function smoothly without the current Slot and Perimeter rules.

The letter is below.

 

 

 

September 22, 2020

 

The Honorable Gene Dodaro            

Comptroller General of the United States                                                                

441 G Street NW    

Washington, DC 20548                                      

 

Dear Mr. Dodaro,

 

We write to express strong opposition to any modification to the current High Density (“Slot”) and Perimeter rules and regulations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Reagan National). We understand that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a study on the potential impacts of allowing exceptions to the Slot and Perimeter rules at Reagan National.

Reagan National and Washington Dulles International Airports were established by the federal government and operate as an integrated system. Small changes to the operational rules at one may well result in impacts on the other. With this in mind, as well as an acknowledgement of the physical limitations and community impacts of aircraft noise at Reagan National, Congress mandated the Slot and Perimeter rules.

Despite this mandate, individual Members of Congress continue to seek special exemptions for their preferred locations, exemptions which the National Capital Region delegation must continue to oppose. Maintaining operational stability has allowed passenger volume at Dulles International to grow, where it is needed, while maintaining Reagan National as a regional hub. Operational stability has also resulted in balance with Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International Airport so that the broader interests of the region are better served.

Protecting this balance is crucial, as even small changes to the Perimeter and Slot rule have a history of destabilizing the regional aviation market and encouraging others to seek additional modifications. Changes by Congress to the Slot rule in 2000, 2003, and 2012 caused passenger enplanements at Reagan National to overtake Dulles International in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Previous loosening of the Slot and Perimeter rules also contributed to significant congestion and stress on Reagan National’s facilities. While domestic passenger traffic at Dulles International began to rebound in 2018 and 2019, the impacts of COVID-19 on air travel have decimated passenger volume, and therefore revenue for 2020.

Changes to operational rules at Reagan National under any circumstances negatively impact Dulles International, but if changes were to take place during the recovery period, that by some projections will extend through 2026, it would be devastating to the regional economy and aviation system. For the reasons stated above, we oppose any changes to the Perimeter and/or Slot rules at Reagan National.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Eleanor Holmes Norton                                                          Steny H. Hoyer

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

Benjamin L. Cardin                                                                Chris Van Hollen

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress   

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger                                                     John P. Sarbanes
Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

Robert J. Wittman                                                                  Mark R. Warner
Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress


Gerald E. Connolly                                                                 Tim Kaine

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

Donald S. Beyer Jr.                                                                 Anthony G. Brown
Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

Jamie Raskin                                                                           David Trone 

Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

 

 

 

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