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More flights to Washington would only help Kansas and Missouri air travelers | Opinion

The push for additional flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport continues to receive bipartisan and public support, including in Missouri. Authorizing additional flights would increase competition at Reagan, helping to keep prices low for consumers while enhancing consumer choice for travelers going to and from Kansas City.

Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt played a significant role as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation supporting five new flights to Washington, D.C., when the committee marked up Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization legislation earlier this month.

The focal point of the debate on the issue is what’s known as the perimeter rule at Reagan, which imposes restrictions on the daily number of flights permitted to take off and land at the airport. This 1960s-era restriction is in desperate need of modernization in order to serve today’s air travel market adequately.

The failure of Congress to update the perimeter rule has allowed one airport and one airline to dominate the air travel market in Washington, D.C. Consequently, anyone wishing to travel to the nation’s capital — whether students, business leaders or leisure travelers — must navigate a market where government intervention determines winners and losers, resulting in inflated airfare and fewer options for travelers.

In fact, the lack of competition has made Washington, D.C., the most expensive region in the nation for air travel. Its Washington Dulles International Airport was recently crowned as America’s most expensive airport for domestic travel.

Allowing Reagan Airport to be governed by an out-of-date perimeter rule deviates from the core principles of a free market. It is time to introduce healthy levels of competition and allow the market, along with those traveling to and from Reagan, to determine airfare prices free from government interference.

We are grateful for Sen. Schmitt’s leadership on this issue. And as strong conservative leaders who understand the benefits of a free and fair market, I also urge Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, along with Sens. Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas, to endorse the inclusion of additional flights at Reagan as part of the FAA Reauthorization. This inclusion would introduce much-needed competition at the airport, making it more affordable for students and all individuals wishing to visit our nation’s capital.

Contrary to the arguments of those opposing additional flights at Reagan in favor of protecting the status quo, the new flights would not pose a threat to or impact existing regional routes from the airport. Current flights between Reagan and Kansas or Missouri would remain unaffected, and these new flights will serve only to increase competition and reduce prices.

The addition of flights at Reagan would provide consumers with more choices and facilitate easy access to our nation’s capital for students — a genuinely advantageous scenario for all of Kansas, Missouri and greater Kansas City.

William Neville is a political scientist and former professional political operative. He has a master’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He lives in Kansas City.