Dulles Airport faces critical economic growth issues
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments at its meeting on Sept. 26 addressed three major issues relative to the future of the airport.
They were: The re-authorization of the perimeter rule, a federal law which limits aircraft flights to nonstop distances of 1,250 miles or less, a potential increase in passenger facility charges and infrastructure support to help traffic to the airports.
Dulles has been hurt by an expansion of flights out of Reagan National Airport because of a chipping away of the effectiveness of the perimeter rule.
The perimeter rule
The Federal Aviation Administration was allowed by Congress to permit certain round-trip flights to points outside the perimeter.
As the regulations came down passenger traffic to Reagan increased. Miles closer to Washington D.C., Reagan became the default airport of choice for Washington travelers.
People are flying more out of Reagan, and fewer out of Dulles.
Passenger facility charges
Passenger facility charges are flat rate fees charged to every passenger as a way to help fund major projects at airports like parking, atria and other major capital costs.
PFCs is expected to constitute more than 32 percent of the funding for 2014 through 2016.
An increase in the PFC money allows airports to keep up with inflation because the flat rate hasn't been changed in more than a decade.
Dulles would also more easily stay competitive in pricing.
Land use, roads and development
Land use and development around the Route 606 and 772 Metro stations will also be important.
Some officials believe the bi-county parkway could help as well as the Metrorail, which is expected to come to the airport in 2018.
The Capital Beltway and the Potomac River's American Legion Bridge is also badly congested.
A boost in ridership to the tune of 800,000 passengers due to low-cost domestic provider Frontier coming in could help move the needle for Dulles.
Currently there are around 15 million domestic passengers and 7 million international passengers right now, so 800,000 passengers would be nearly 5 percent of its existing passenger base.
In Maryland BWI saw a boost in passengers from the building of the inter-county connector.
Originally the primary airport for Montgomery County was Dulles, but the connector made it make reasonable to go to BWI.
One of the major advantages Dulles has is the amount of land and size. Dulles is much larger than the other two airports in the region.
Findings from a study will be presented on Oct. 8 to the entire Council of Governments board.