Virtual Information Session
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Dates and times:
- Tuesday, May 5, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 6, 10 a.m.
- Tuesday, May 12, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 13, 10 a.m.
Why groups are fighting over obscure 1960s-era ‘slot and perimeter’ rules at a Virginia airport
This spring has seen increased bickering in Northern Virginia over two little-known aviation regulations called the slot and perimeter rules, which govern operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington County. What exactly are they — and why are people fighting over them? Read on to figure out what you need to know.
What is the perimeter rule?
The perimeter rule limits the distance of nonstop flights to and from Reagan National to 1,250 miles — roughly the distance westward to Kansas and Nebraska and as far north as Quebec and Newfoundland.
Initially set at 650 miles in 1966 and then later increased, the perimeter was intended to help reduce congestion at Reagan National and encourage use of the much larger Dulles International Airport in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
The rule allowed Congress to pass exemptions to the perimeter, which it has done three times in 2000, 2003, and 2012. (Congress has a special interest in both Reagan National and Dulles because the federal government owns them, with operations managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, known as MWAA.)
Those exemptions have opened up Reagan to 40 daily flights — or 20 round trips — to and from Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin and San Juan. A November 2020 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found these flights increased passenger traffic at Reagan National and “likely reduced” some of the airport’s existing capacity.
What is the slot rule?
The slot rule also called the high-density rule, was created in 1969 to control congestion at five high-traffic airports, including Reagan National. It requires airlines to obtain a “slot,” or authorization, for every takeoff from and landing at the airport; Reagan is currently limited to a maximum of 67 slots per hour.
Slots are allocated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the GAO noted in its 2020 report that “airlines consider their slots and slot exemptions to be valuable assets.” In 2009, JetBlue co-founder Dave Barger pitched then-Gov. Tim Kaine on a proposal to let airlines “slide” more slots between different hours of the day, arguing it would give more low-cost airlines access to the airport. The Kaine administration directed Barger to discuss the idea with the MWAA.
Why do some people want to change the rules?
Debates over the slot and perimeter rules aren’t new. They typically occur every five years when Congress reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, which it’s slated to do by the end of September. But this year, the issue is getting more attention after U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Burgess Owens of Utah introduced legislation last month to add 28 additional flights to Reagan National both within and beyond its current perimeter.
“Five years ago, there wasn’t as much of an organized effort,” said Brian Walsh, a Fairfax resident who serves as the spokesperson for the Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of business organizations that most notably includes Delta Air Lines. Since then, he says, “more people are flying than ever before,” and the population in Northern Virginia and around Dulles has grown.
“Nothing has been changed in a number of years, and so with this year’s authorization bill, we see an opportunity to modernize what many of us see as an antiquated” system, he said.
The Capital Access Alliance has mounted an aggressive campaign to get Congress to authorize the additional flights, which it argues will allow up to 1 million more passengers to fly to and from locations outside the perimeter, drive down ticket prices and create over 1,000 new jobs. An analysis by the group concludes Reagan National is “under-utilizing its capacity compared to other major airports in the top ten U.S. metros,” and prior additions of beyond-perimeter flights there have “not negatively impacted the overall passenger growth at” Dulles.
“Dulles is fully equipped to survive on its own. There are hundreds of thousands of people who live around it today,” said Walsh. “This is about giving air travelers more choices.”
Why do others want to keep the current system in place?
Not everyone agrees. A counter-organization is known as the Coalition to Protect America’s Regional Airports has emerged to oppose the proposal, saying adding flights from Reagan National “would create unnecessary gridlock, threaten jobs and local businesses, risk connectivity for countless communities, and increase congestion, delays, and noise.”
The coalition, which includes the MWAA as well as United Airlines, several Virginia chambers of commerce and 17 Virginia airports, points in its defense to a May 25 memo from the Federal Aviation Administration that called the Capital Access Alliance report “flawed.” Instead, the FAA wrote, additional flights “would likely have a negative impact on operational performance and passenger experience,” and Reagan National “is more delay prone than most other airports.”
Furthermore, argued coalition director Scott York in a release on the group’s formation, “if the slot and perimeter rules are removed or changed, airlines will be incentivized to replace routes that promote and sustain nationwide connectivity with longer-haul, more profitable flights. These lost connections will have a significant impact on the local communities that rely on regional airports for economic development as well as safe and convenient travel.”
The MWAA contends that Reagan National is already operating at full capacity and has the busiest runway in the nation, with 819 daily takeoffs and landings on average.
“While [Reagan National] is very popular because of its proximity to Capitol Hill, it simply cannot accommodate all the flights that airlines want to send to Washington,” said MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter in a statement urging Congress to reject the increases.
The debate could continue at least through the summer. The current FAA authorization is set to expire at the end of September, but it’s not unusual for Congress to extend the deadline.
Walsh said the Capital Access Alliance is currently focused on “educating” the public and members of Congress about the newest slot and perimeter proposal. It will have to win over a number of key votes, including those of Virginia’s U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Kaine. This spring, the two joined with Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to convey their “strong opposition to any attempts at changing” the current slot and perimeter rules. Virginia’s six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives are also opposing the measure.
“With the expansion of Metro access to Dulles, long-distance flights from the Washington region have never been more accessible or competitive,” Warner and Kaine wrote in an April statement. “The slot and perimeter rules help to balance consistent world-class aviation services at the region’s three major airports, which has in turn allowed for billions of dollars in private-sector capital investment in the metropolitan Washington area.”
by Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Ronald Joseph “Ron” Tesorero (1933 – 2023)
Ronald Joseph “Ron” Tesorero, 89, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Winchester Health and Rehab.
Services will take place at a later date.
Ronnie was born on August 17, 1933, in Boston, Massachusetts, to the late Bartholomew and Laura Tesorero. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Larry Tesorero, and his sister, Laura Ann Roy.
Surviving Ronnie is his loving wife of 47 years, Barbara “Annie” Tesorero; his children, David, Jeanne, Lori, Dianne, Kim, and Leonard; his 14 grandchildren; his 7 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Ronnie was a veteran of the United States Army, he served his tour of duty in Okinawa, Japan. He was an avid sports fan, and his hobbies included fishing and spending time with his family. His wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were his life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at 120 W Main St. Front Royal, Virginia 22630.
Loreen “Reenie” A. Novak (1940 – 2023)
Loreen “Reenie” A. Novak, 82, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Hidden Springs Senior Living, where she resided for the last four years.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Reenie was born on August 16, 1940, in Washington, D.C., to the late Anthony and Loretta Novak. She was also preceded in death by her longtime companion, Sarah “Sally” Talbot.
Surviving Reenie are her siblings, Anthony Novak Jr. (Judy) and Vicki A. Novak; her numerous nieces and nephews; her very special friends, Nancy Q. Raum and Diane King; her god-children; and her many “little sisters” who she loved and adored.
Reenie was born in Washington, D.C. but was raised and grew up in Arlington. She attended Washington Lee High School in Arlington and graduated from Mary Washington College with a B.A. in 1962. She then went to work in the federal government for about 14 years in multiple agencies as a successful human resources manager before relocating to Front Royal. There she co-owned Corron’s Grocery Store for 12 years and was very active within her community.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Mid- Atlantic Pug Rescue at 1285 Bradford Dr. Lancaster, SC 29720, or online at https://midatlanticpugrescue.org/donations.html
Michael Ray “Mike” Franklin (1955 – 2023)
Michael Ray “Mike” Franklin, 68, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away on Friday, June 2, 2023, at Winchester Medical Center.
His funeral service will take place at 11:00 am on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at Maddox Funeral Home, 105 W. Main St., Front Royal, Virginia 22630, with Pastor Terry Bechtel and Glenn Haman officiating. A visitation will take place at Maddox Funeral Home the night prior from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Following all services, the burial will take place at Refuge Church Cemetery.
Mike was born in Front Royal on April 27, 1955, to the late Lyle and Lillian Franklin. He was also preceded in death by three brothers, Norris Taylor Franklin, David Lee Franklin, Lyle Edward Franklin; and his significant other, Crystal Pomeroy.
Surviving Mike are his children, Joshua Peck (Jessica Aleshire) and Angel Peck (Matt Nuckles); his grandchildren, Joshua Wayne Peck Jr., Landyn Michael Peck, Dalton Leander Peck, and Jayden Albert Peck; his best friend and the mother of his kids, Becky Peck; and his siblings, Robert Wayne franklin (Shirley), Judy Bollman (Jim), Brenda Sue Cameron (Leonard), Barbara Jean Cameron, Deborah Jane Beaty (Joe) Frances Leanna Melton (Kenneth) and Sharon Lynn Franklin.
Mike was a member of Buckton Presbyterian Church. In his spare time, he enjoyed visiting the casino; he loved his slot machines, fishing, and spending time with his family.
Pallbearers will be Joshua Peck, Joshua Peck Jr., Jayden Peck, Jessica Aleshire, Matthew Nuckles, and Rick Haines.
Honorary Pallbearers are Arnay Murray Jr., Nathaniel Murray, and James Bollman.
Memorial contributions may be made to the services of Michael Franklin c/o Maddox Funeral Home.
Blue Ridge Arts Council unveils 2023 Gazebo Gatherings Summer Concert Series lineup
The Blue Ridge Arts Council is once again ushering in the summer with the much-awaited 2023 Gazebo Gatherings Summer Concert Series. The event, held at the Gazebo in Downtown Front Royal, Virginia, will feature an eclectic mix of genres from classical to rock, pop to folk, and even a tribute to the Beatles.
Starting Thursday, June 15, at 7:00 pm, the American Legion Community Band will take the stage, sponsored by the local American Legion Post 1830. The band will kick off the concert series with a vibrant evening of marches to movie scores, classics to pop.
Following this are more Thursday evening performances featuring a variety of talented musicians and bands. On June 22, enjoy the versatile guitar arrangements from Joe Martin, spanning rock, jazz, and classical genres. June 29 sees Spam Risk, a new duo with the familiar sounds of Reno Vaughan and Mark Clay, promising a captivating evening.
July brings with it a rich list of performers, starting with The Sidemen, who pledge to keep their music true to rock and roll roots. ‘For the Love of Linda’ honors the timeless music of Linda Ronstadt on July 13. The Dan James Band, a group of local Appalachian musicians, will serenade the audience with their alternative-folk-rock tunes on July 20.
As summer peaks, the end of July and August bring more unique performances. Opposite Shores delivers easy-listening, soulful vocal harmonies, followed by the country/folk band Smoke & The Poet, inspired by red dirt country and roots music. Rich Follett delivers feel-good folk on August 10, while Ryan Jewel enchants with his rich baritone vocals and authentic songwriting on August 17. Wrapping up the concert series on August 24 is Vinyl Tracks with an all-Beatles tribute show.
Presented by Blue Ridge Arts Council and sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the County of Warren, and the Town of Front Royal, the Gazebo Gatherings Summer Concert Series is a must-visit event of the season. Keep an eye out for concert weather updates on the Blue Ridge Arts Facebook page.
Front Royal Rotary ending its year with major student awards
The Rotary Club of Front Royal’s president, Lori Glascock, is using the last weeks of her one-year term of office to distribute scholarship money and other awards to worthy local students. On June 23, Ken Evans will be sworn in as the 2023-24 club president.
In addition to previous student awards and recognition of local outstanding teachers, Glascock, last Friday (June 2), handed out further awards to four students from Skyline and Warren County High Schools who excelled in the arts and in the fields of sport.
Isabella Pittelli, WCHS, received the 2023 Betsy Blauvelt Student Art Award. The late Betsy Blauvelt, a past president of Front Royal Rotary, was a long-time executive director of the old Wayside Theatre in Middletown. Blauvelt’s husband, David, and their daughters attended the presentation.
Cody Henderson, Skyline, received the Kym Crump Student Art Award. Crump, also a former president of Front Royal Rotary and executive director of the Blue Ridge Arts Council, attended the presentation to Cody.
The John Marlow Male Athlete of the Year Award went to Daniel “DJ” Rizzo Jr., WCHS. The ceremony was watched by Marlow and his daughter, Emily Marlow Beck. Marlow was himself an outstanding high school and college athlete, also a past president of Front Royal Rotary and Mayor of the Town of Front Royal.
Sara Waller, WCHS, received one of two 2023 Heidi Moore Female Athletic Awards, along with Ava Bordner, Skyline, who will pick up her award later this month. She was away competing in athletics at the state level. Heidi Moore was an outstanding county athlete who tragically died from cancer shortly after completing her high school years.
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