McCain Wants You to Be Able to Fly to Washington/National and New York/LaGuardia From Anywhere in the US

Let’s say you’re John McCain. You’ve finally had a couple months to relax after a very long and taxing presidential campaign. Now it’s time to head back to the Senate and use your influence to really help the country, right? Uh, well, sort of. McCain is back, but he’s not pushing out bills on the most pressing issues of the day. Instead, one of his first acts back on the Hill was to introduce the Abolishing Aviation Barriers Act to eliminate the perimeter rules at Washington/National and New York/LaGuardia airports.

While the perimeter rules may not be the highest on the list of national priorities, I am fully behind this legislation. I wrote a full post on the perimeter rules awhile ago, and you can read that for a full refresher. But in short, there is an imaginary circle drawn around National and LaGuardia, and airlines can’t fly nonstop beyond those points. Here’s a map to help the visual folks here.

Perimeter Rule

Airlines can’t fly nonstop from LaGuardia to anywhere west of the red line or from National to anywhere west of the blue line. It’s not on the map, but Denver got itself an exemption for LaGuardia flights awhile back, and there were a few exemptions that McCain pushed through for National flights beyond the perimeter as well. The National exemptions of course greatly benefited his constituent carrier, America West, which walked away with half the exemptions to fly back to Phoenix and Vegas. America West is now US Airways, and they have a bunch of slots at National and LaGuardia that they’d love to use to fly beyond the perimeter. McCain is clearly trying to treat his home airline well here.

Let’s be honest. These rules are dumb. They were initially instituted back in the day when newer, further airports were being built at JFK and Dulles and they wanted to phase out the use of National and LaGuardia. Instead of shutting them down (Congress couldn’t let go of an airport that’s so close for their own purposes), they slapped these rules on. The rules have changed over the years, but looking at it now, it just seems silly. I mean, there is absolutely no reason for these rules to exist anymore. If it’s a safety issue, then close down the airport. If not, let airlines fly where demand takes them. Everyone will be better off. It’s not like it would increase the amount of traffic. Airlines would simply turn in their flights to Akron and fly to LA instead. Seems smart to me.

The bill is a very simple one. So simple that I’ll just past it here. It’s Senate bill 36.

A BILL

To repeal the perimeter rule for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Abolishing Aviation Barriers Act of 2009′.

SEC. 2. RONALD REAGAN WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT.

(a) In General- Chapter 449 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking section 49109.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The chapter analysis for chapter 449 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to section 49109 and inserting the following:

`44901. Repealed.’.

SEC. 3. TERMINATION OF FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR PERIMETER RULE AT NEW YORK LAGUARDIA AIRPORT.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be obligated or expended after the date of enactment of this Act to enforce the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey rule banning flights beyond 1,500 miles (or any other flight distance related restriction), from arrival or departure at New York LaGuardia Airport.

So it wouldn’t really end the rule in New York, but it would no longer allow federal funds to dictate where airplanes fly from the airport. And I have to think that the Port Authority would like these longer haul flights since they’ll probably replace prop planes which serve fewer passengers.

Oh, and Section 44901? It states:

An air carrier may not operate an aircraft nonstop in air transportation between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and another airport that is more than 1,250 statute miles away from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Despite the fact that this is of very little to no national importance, I hope we see it pass.

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44 Comments on "McCain Wants You to Be Able to Fly to Washington/National and New York/LaGuardia From Anywhere in the US"

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Jim Carmignani
Guest

The perimeter rules are antiquainted and anti-competitive, just like to Wright ammendment is. All should repealed ASAP.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

As long as the runway is long enough and the plane can fly far enough, let the free market and slot controls dictate the service network.

CAN a 757 make it safely off the runway at DCA and carry a full load to SEA or SAN?

David
Guest

What happens to all the senators and people in Congress who want to fly from DCA to their home cities in the mid-West and east coast and are worried that their flights will be replaced by those to LA ?

David
Guest

Forgot to add…. could we now see British Airways moving their new A319 route from London City (via Shannon – hence US preclearance) to visit La Guardia instead of JFK ?

Dan
Guest

How about flying south. Is there a limitation as to how far they can fly. Can they fly to say Aruba or St. Maarten from LGA and DCA

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

Now THAT is a sexy topic! Pre-cleared overseas flights in to National.

CF – Not sure what the operating differences (primarily the power to weight ratio) would be between the 737 and the 757 in terms of runway length. Who knows….the 737 may actually need more runway than the larger bird.

For a real thrill ride, take a look on YouTube and search for take off videos of the IL-76 out of Australia. Anyone who’s seen it knows what I mean!

David M
Guest

David,

What about senators and congress-people from, say, San Francisco, who right now don’t have flights to their home cities and have to connect or fly from IAD or BWI while those in small east coast and mid-west cities with more frequent service than their market really demands get to fly nonstop?

If a market can support nonstop service from DCA, great. If not, why should the fact that a senator or congressperson would like a flight make a difference on whether or not a market is served?

A
Guest
My opinion is that cities like Denver did the right thing in shutting down their old airport once the new one was built. While perimeter rules may seem “dumb” today they were necessary to establish airports like JFK and IAD, even DFW. In the 1960’s would anyone have flown to Dulles over National given the choice? Would the response be any different today? I doubt it. Repealing this will only cause hopeless crowding at the older and smaller airports. I don’t agree with the unfair advantage the “closer” airport has, thus why I think Denver did the right thing in… Read more »
David
Guest
David M – there are a lot more states east of the red / blue line than to the west. If each state has 2 senators…. that means far more senators currently have potential service home from DCA than don’t. Further, there’s a lot more of the US population to the east of the 2 lines, hence far more representatives in the House. It all adds up to more people in Congress who might worry about losing or having a degraded service than those who have no current flights at all. Of course it’s not fair that airlines act in… Read more »
David
Guest

A – Tempelhof airport was in the centre of Berlin. When the city Govt tried to close it down (they succeeded in the end), there was a LOT of fuss made about it.

Harold
Guest

Sounds like a silly law, but other airport restrictions like the Wright Amendment should be included as well, not just these two airports.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
A – NYC was wise (and doubtlessly politically manipulated) in to keeping LGA open. Imagine the mess today if it had been closed and left only JFK to serve the city. Yikes! IAD was a huge white elephant when it first opened. It’s only advantage was having runways long enough for transcon and overseas flights. As they Tech Corridor from Tysons to Leesburg developed and housing moved in that direction, Dulles found itself with a built-in and affluent base, one that is generally loathe to fly out if DCA due to the traffic. DFW was similar to IAD in the… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
International Cities with Old and New Airports Running: BKK – Don Guang and NRT – Haneda and Narita LON – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City PAR – Orly and Charles de Gaulle MIL – Malpensa and Linate MOW – Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo SAO – Guarulhos and Congonhas RIO – Galeao and Santos Dumont BUE – Ezeiza and Jorge Newberry SHA – Pudong and Hongqiao Huge metropolitan areas all, with significant local, regional, continental and international demands. Closing one will not necessarily make things better for the newer facility – it may actually make things worse (LHR). One wonders how… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

BKK – Don Guong and Suvarnabhumi. Sorry about that.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

Jeez! I’m STILL gettin’ it half-wrong….it’s Don Mueang!

Steve
Guest

Why don’t they regulate something useful, like how many flights can take off, land or fly through airspace?

Usually Named
Guest

And then there’s IAH and HOU.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

I tried to stay away from multi-airport cities in the US. Too many of them!

Wilson Phillips
Guest
There is SOME logic to doing things this way. The reason is that the land and the number of slots at these close in airports is highly restricted. So every flight pushes another flight out of the way. Though I know the original reasons probably had more to do with diverting traffic to the larger airports then being built like IAD and JFK, there’s something to be said for the idea that shorter flights benefit from being closer in. Meaning if you’re flying to LAX from NYC you’re going to be on the plane for 5-6 hours. Going a little… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
The arguments at the time of the restrictions had more to do with two things: a) The newer airports could handle larger aircraft b) The smaller aircraft could not fly nearly as far. Marketing and logic took over from there. Spend an extra 45 minutes in the car for the sake of a nonstop coast-to-coast flight instead of missing your connection and getting stuck half-way across the country. Todays smaller aircraft have intercontinental range capabilities, changing the dynamics used to implement the restrictions. In saturated markets like New York, therefore, lifting the range restrictions makes sense. Cranky wrote earlier that… Read more »
David
Guest

Optimist – some airlines do care about the commute to an airport. In London twenty years ago, anything to do with business flying happened at Heathrow. Then banks moved gradually east, and City Airport opened up. Now AF, LH and even airlines like British Airways with a fortress at Heathrow have sizeable operations at LCY. When offered 2 airports – 20 mins away or 1h20m which do you choose ?

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
David – I live 5 minutes from DFW and 25 minutes from Love Field. AA is my carrier. I follow and agree with your argument but only from the perspective of the customer. Airlines historically want larger and newer airports and then very jealously fight to close the older facility they’re leaving behind (Denver is the biggest recent example of this). Local politics plays in to keeping the older, smaller fields open. Consider Tokyo. It’s nearly impossible to connect to any other city in the country from Narita because of traffic restrictions, field operations and curfews. Haneda does some 90-95%… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
London and Los Angeles are in exactly the same boat. Both main airports, LHR and LAX, respectively, are pretty much at their physical limit. Both have considered or are considering new runways on their respective north sides but that still remains a stop-gap measure at best. To build a brand new airport that meets and exceeds future growth needs for either city one would have to take similar action to Denver. Except Denver HAD 15,000 acres of worthless land lying around along with a local government willing to close Stapleton. 1) Where would an airport that size go in a… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

For Denver’s new airport, make that 33,000 acres, 53 square miles or 140 square kilometers. Even without environmentalist, building cost or convenience concerns, that kind of open land is simply not available to London, Los Angeles, Frankfurt or other cities with major global operations and saturated urban build-up immediately around it.

Jeffrey Sigmon
Guest

I can not think of one reason for these perimeters to exist. Times have changed.

Jason H
Guest
Slightly off-topic, but since my home airport was brought up so often. DEN actually benefits from it’s enormous land in more ways than just room to expand. The airport authority actually derives a large chunk of income from non-aviation sources such as oil/gas wells, agricultural land rental, etc. They are near completion of a 2MW solar plant to provide power for the airport and reduce expenses. All of these non-aviation activities allowed them to give $10.7 million of their share of the state aviation fuel tax to airlines earlier this year to help them cope with high fuel costs. Of… Read more »
Yo
Guest

The perimeter rules got to go.

Not needed, and are not fair to the west.

Get rid of them, now!

JFK is a PITA to fly in/out

rf3
Member

While I see the benefits to both sides of the arguenent, it is important to note that, to new yorkers like myself, LGA is seen as the domestic airport…JFK as International. In my opinion, the law in New York should be changed to allow only national and precleared canada flights. That way, there is less confusion about where to go for your flight (jet blue being an exception)

sam
Guest

As an airline pilot/ffdo….leave the reg as is. LGA and DCA are higher risk airports…the amount of fuel acft that take-off or land there should be limited for safety/terrorist reasons. next thing you know widebodys will be landing at these airports, which I think is un-safe. IN fact DCA should be closed and moved to andrews…and andrews moved elsewhere. these airports and ones like midway do not met ICAO clear zone area requirements for approaches and departures. this is why people die= air florida 737, southwest 737, usair f-28….

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Sam – Widebodies have been flown in to both LGA and DCA. Eastern successfully “tested” the A300 in to DCA but it was determined too much of a ramp hog to operate efficiently. The DC-10 and L-1011 both were designed specifically with LGA in mind as a way to serve more people with fewer available slots. They operated there nearly to the end of their commercial careers. DL has operated the 767-300 in to LGA from ATL, an airplane almost as big as the first two. May they rest in peace, the Air Florida crash was a wing-ice disaster; it… Read more »
sam
Guest

Traveling optimist: I agree with your comments, except for the part that says the DC-10 and L-1011 were designed with LGA in mind. My point is these 2 airports are dangerous…or let’s say= less safe than, say denver or detroit…so I think=when disaster does strike…is it not better to have a plane with less fuel and less size go off the end of a runway with NO CLEAR zones…like regular airports have?…midway also falls under this category…in fact midway was basically abandoned for years and years….in the 70’s and early 80’s

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Sam – I agree about having airports with “run-off” areas at the end of runways. Sad fact is, too many fields in this country alone are surrounded by urban build-up: DAL, MDW, SAN, DCA, LGA, EWR, even SFO. Imagine one of those HKG bound 747s plowing in to the 101. There are pictures, even, of a China Air 747 going off the end of the old Kai Tak at HKG, an airport with one of the most horrendous approaches on record. Want something similar to that? Try the right-angle approach to Funchal in the Madeira Islands of Portugal, also an… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Sam – I do agree with you that LGA, DCA and airports like it, are the kinds of airports that make everyone clench up just a little tighter during approach and landing. Sadly, though, politics and local economies mean those airports are destined to remain open for the sake of the jobs they create if not simply their convenience to the city they serve. I have never heard of any effort to build a new SAN and close Lindbergh. Same as in DC with Andrews AFB, the likelihood of Miramar becoming a commercial airport is slim to none. Anyone at… Read more »
Xnuiem
Member
Whoa…Sam. I know we are talking US here, but if we want to talk clear zones and terrifying approaches, do not go to the Caribbean. Those runways end in coral reefs, beaches, slums, or hotels. As someone that lives closer to DFW and to DAL but flies WN (they actually get me home when AA likes to strand me places) I am glad to have a choice. I live on the approach to AFW, I knew that when I moved here. If a FedEx MD-11 or AA 777 takes out the neighborhood….There aren’t a lot of people living around either… Read more »
sam
Guest

in light of the usair plane accident in lga today…I still disagree with those on this forum, that believe this is not an issue. the world trade center was designed to have a 707 hit it and remain standing…we saw a 767 exceeded that limitation. in the interest of safety and preserving the us capitol and other structures near DCA from total destruction I believe there should be a limit to size and range of acft arriving and departing DCA.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Firstly I am thankful initial reports indicate all aboard have survived the USAirways incident in NYC today. Sam’s arguments do not, however. The plane in question, a fully loaded A320 is smaller than the 757, the largest plane operating at DCA. The fuel load to Charlotte is nowhere close to the requirement of a transcon flight, which that plane is capable of depending on the purchasing airline’s requirements. Third, initial reports of a bird strike in both engines mean deliberate sabotage was not a factor. Praises to the pilot who successfully ditched in to the Hudson, on the other side… Read more »
Jose
Guest
The intent of this bill is to spread the air pollution around.I would assume, as local government slowly realizes the pollution dumped on their locales ; are putting it on the DC Ghees to control it.The vested Aviation interests are prodding their agents to act….There is a ground swell of concern over , not only the Jet engines contribution to global warming, but its consumption of great volumes of air lowering the girdle of air that sustains us. The 21st century will bring teletravel-.CEOS will not longer take jaunts at the expense the common stock holder,-And for those proposing bills,… Read more »
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