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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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New FAA Law Secures Nonstop Flight from San Antonio to Washington, D.C.

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas – In a significant milestone for San Antonio, key political figures and community leaders gathered to celebrate the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024. This new legislation paves the way for a nonstop flight from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The announcement was made at a press conference featuring U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), U.S. Representatives Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

The bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act, co-authored by Sen. Cruz and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), includes a provision for five new round-trip flights to DCA from locations that previously did not have direct flights. This move is particularly significant for San Antonio, often referred to as Military City, USA, due to its large population of active-duty military personnel and veterans.

Sen. Cruz emphasized the extensive efforts and unity within the San Antonio community at the press conference that made this achievement possible. “I want to start by commending the people of San Antonio for the strong unity this community has shown, fighting for this direct flight to Ronald Reagan National Airport,” he stated. “It’s taken a long time getting here. Just last week, President Biden signed into law the FAA reauthorization bill.”

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Sen. Cruz highlighted the strategic importance of this new route, noting San Antonio’s status as the seventh-largest and fastest-growing city in the United States. “San Antonio is Military City, USA, [and it] has an enormous population of active-duty military and veterans who choose to make San Antonio home. Reagan Airport is right next to the Pentagon, [and] Arlington Memorial Cemetery,” he said.

He also pointed out the intense lobbying battle surrounding the bill. “The single biggest battle on this bill was this new direct flight from San Antonio to DC. It was a massive lobbying battle. There were enormous amounts of money spent on the other side trying to prevent this flight,” Sen. Cruz explained. “The unity in the San Antonio community behind this flight is remarkable… This is the right thing for San Antonio.” This bipartisan effort is a beacon of hope for future collaborations.

The next steps involve the Department of Transportation announcing the application procedures for eligible airlines to operate these new routes. This development is expected to significantly enhance connectivity for San Antonio residents, particularly benefiting our esteemed military personnel and veterans, who will now have easier access to Washington, D.C.

The successful passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act and the introduction of this nonstop flight mark a momentous achievement for San Antonio. They demonstrate unity and effective bipartisan cooperation, a milestone that the entire San Antonio community can take pride in.

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FAA Reauthorization Act Delivers for the Lone Star State:

  • A historic $4 billion per year in funding for airport infrastructure projects that will boost capacity and safety at airports across Texas and the nation.
  • Five additional exemptions to statutory “perimeter rule,” allowing new round-trip flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from locations previously excluded from direct flights. This will provide the ability for a direct flight from San Antonio to DCA, delivering a more convenient travel experience for members of the military traveling from Joint Base San Antonio, business travelers, and tourists.
  • Directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers. Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) for both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas have been understaffed in recent years.
    • A provision authorizing the creation of a Center for Advanced Aviation Technologies for new and emerging aviation technologies including for advanced air mobility and powered-lift. This center would be responsible for testing and advancing these technologies including by overseeing the development and related activities of testing corridors and other flight demonstration zones. Importantly, the Center would also work to facilitate partnerships between industry, academia, and related government agencies to further unleash innovative aviation technologies.
    • An adjustment to the bill’s discretionary airport improvement program funding structures that would boost McKinney National Airport’s efforts to become the third primary commercial airport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. While the terminal expansion will be primarily financed at the local level, the bill expands McKinney National’s eligibility for up to $20 million in federal funding.
  • Reforms aimed at better integrating commercial space activities into the national airspace system to assist launch providers in navigating complicated airspace, a boost for Texas’ thriving commercial space industry.
  • Provisions that could benefit Texas universities seeking to develop aviation-related curriculum and workforce development programs such as Texas Woman’s University and Angelo State University.
  • Reforms to FAA’s State Block Grant and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) administrative funding programs that will greatly benefit the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • Funding that will improve the operational capabilities for the FAA’s UAS test range managed by Texas A&M and located in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • A measure addressing the recent devastating wildfires in Texas by directing the FAA to develop a plan to better integrate the use of unmanned aircraft systems to help fight wildfires.
  • A provision that will streamline approvals to allow for more drone operations for offshore oil and gas facilities in international waters.
  • New guidance directing the FAA to establish a process to enable test and demonstration flights for hypersonic and supersonic aircraft making it possible that a test corridor could be established in Texas.
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