Business Journal Exclusive: SA ‘close’ to landing DC flights, Congressman Castro says

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s lengthy quest to gain nonstop air access to Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., has spanned multiple presidential administrations but may now be nearing an end.

Congress could approve new legislation in a matter of days, freeing up more slots for flights to and from DCA, and San Antonio has some high-ranking firepower fighting for one of those routes.

“This is the closest that we’ve come in quite some time,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said.

A federal regulatory wall known as the Perimeter Rule, established in 1966 when jet aircraft first began operating at Reagan National, has prevented San Antonio nonstop access to DCA. It was put in place to drive more traffic to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and others, including Castro, contend that rule has created an economic barrier between San Antonio and the Washington area for far too long.

Congress is expected to vote soon on new Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act legislation that could include five new slots for flights to and from DCA. Castro said the current Senate bill includes such expanded access. He’s hopeful that version of the bill will make it to the House, and that his colleagues will approve the legislation.

Otherwise, it could be several more years before Congress addresses the Perimeter Rule again.

“Years ago, there were slots added. It came down to San Antonio and Austin,” Castro said. “We’ve been pushing ever since then. I feel like we’re close, it’s doable.”

San Antonio is the largest U.S. city without nonstop flights to DCA. Much smaller markets, including Tulsa, Oklahoma; Akron, Ohio; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; have DCA flights, according to Castro.

Read the full story in the San Antonio Business Journal.

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.

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