WASHINGTON — The Capital Access Alliance (CAA), spearheaded by Delta Air Lines, has expressed its support for a newly proposed bill in the US House of Representatives. 

The bill, known as the Direct Capital Access Act or DCA Act, aims to relax the medium-haul flight restrictions at Washington National (DCA) by authorising an additional 28 flights to be shared among the airlines serving the airport.

The DCA Act seeks to address an antiquated perimeter rule from 1966 that is uniquely applicable to Washington National (also known as Ronald Reagan National Airport). This rule caps the number of flights that can take off or land each day beyond a radius of 1,250-miles (2,011 kilometres). The CAA is urging the US Congress to permit more direct flights to and from the airport when they consider the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorisation Bill in the autumn of 2023.

Currently, only seven airlines are authorised to operate a mere 20 daily round trips to ten destinations beyond the airport's established perimeter. "Based on its April 2023 schedule, DCA operates approximately 437 daily departures, meaning a scant 4.5% of these flights go beyond the perimeter. Even if we were to add an additional 28 flights per day, and all were authorised for beyond-perimeter destinations, only 10% of DCA's daily departures would reach beyond 1,250 miles," the CAA explained in a statement.

The Alliance believes that relaxing the existing restrictions could connect an additional 800,000 to one million passengers per year via non-stop flights to beyond-perimeter markets from Washington National. According to a recent CAA study, this move could also reduce airfares from Washington National, where competition is currently stifled. The study noted, "Washington DC has the most expensive domestic ticket prices across the top 10 US metropolitan areas. Reduced competition costs consumers more than USD 500 million annually in above-average flight prices."

The CAA, established a mere two weeks ago, comprises members from various industries and regions of the country, including transportation, general business groups, small business sector, entrepreneurs, organisations focused on economic development, and leaders in the civic and policy communities.