More flights out of National? We can hope…

New legislation has been proposed to add 36 flights at Washington National airport (a roughly 5%) increase and to allow 24 of those flights to travel more than 1250 miles (an exception to current limits which are known as the ‘perimeter rule’).

Local politicians hate this, even though it benefits travelers. They make silly arguments that somehow the perimeter rule benefits Dulles airport, which it does not.

I wrote in the Washington Post (perhaps four years ago, can’t find it online) that restricting the distance flown out of National Airport, and reserving long haul flights for Dulles in order to ‘protect it’ and ‘enhance it’s growth’ actually had the opposite effect.

The perimeter rule led to an overabundance of short haul flights at National, the preferred carrier for pasengers in downtown DC. That meant fewer short haul flights at Dulles, since the local traffic couldn’t support those flights.

And without those short flights, there wasn’t enough feeder traffic for building up long haul connecting flights. Dulles was dependent only on DC origination and destination traffic and so there were fewer options and the development of Dulles as a hub was delayed for nearly a decade.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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