Our NC economy needs more and better access to Washington National Airport

Published August 31, 2023

By Vivian Jones

I’m the longest serving Mayor of Wake Forest, one of the fastest growing communities in North Carolina. North Carolina’s strong economic growth over the past decade has meant great things for our region and specifically for Wake Forest. A lot of my constituents work in Raleigh or over in RTP, but they choose to make their home in Wake Forest.

A lot of these constituents work in tech or life sciences, both heavily regulated by the federal government, and need to have good access to Washington, DC where various agencies who regulate their industries are based and they deserve the best possible access to Washington, DC, especifically to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). We don’t drive an hour to Greensboro to fly to Washington DC, yet an outdated federal policy results in a lot of North Carolina commuters flying to the Washington DC region but then still having to commute for an hour or more to actually get to Washington, DC.

This outdated federal policy is the federal perimeter rule. It limits competition and has resulted in fewer air travel options and high-ticket prices. Today it is more expensive to travel by plane to Washington, DC than any other major domestic market. It is well past time to make commonsense reforms to this decades-old regulation and ensure it meets today’s demand.

Legislation that is part of the FAA Reauthorization currently being debated on Capitol Hill could change this. It’s already been debated in the US House and I thank US Representatives David Rouzer (NC-07), Dan Bishop (NC-08), and Richard Hudson (NC-09) for voting to modernize this regulation and now I encourage US Senators Ted Budd and Thom Tillis to support this effort as well.

Expanded access to DCA would lower prices and further strengthen connectivity for travelers in our area. Ease of affordable travel from our great state to Washington, D.C. – as well as from Washington, D.C. to our communities – would only serve to strengthen North Carolina’s economic opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when folks who can’t get a flight and/or make it work on their expense account drive through Wake Forest on the way to 85 northbound and spend their money here on their way out of town. But let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be better for our economic growth if these folks could be more efficient with their time and fly directly to DC and meet with various regulatory agencies and lawmakers?

One other note, contrary to some claims being made, the bill is strictly additive, and will provide additional choices for travelers without diminishing existing flights.

Opening up DCA will bring down ticket prices through added competition and more choices. Easier, more convenient and more affordable travel to DCA will help our state maintain and strengthen its position of importance in the southeast.

Mayor Vivian Jones, the longest serving Wake Forest Mayor is serving her sixth term and is Wake Forest’s first female Mayor