Airport owner complains about new slot exemptions for National

Washington DC
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Adding 16 new slot exemptions to Washington National Airport's perimeter-rule risks overwhelming the airport and depressing service at Dulles International, the administrator of both airports says today.

National Airport's 44 gates and 28 overnight parking spaces will approach full capacity as the eight new routes are added in the third quarter, according to the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (WMAA) in a new filing.

The authority also voiced concerned that previous slot exemptions at National has reduced traffic at Dulles.

"Should Congress continue to add exemptions in the future, the efficient operation of the airport will be placed in jeopardy," WMAA says.

Airlines are restricted from operating beyond a 2,012km (1,250mi) perimeter for scheduled take-offs and landings at National Airport.

Congress installed the perimeter rule in the early 1960s to boost domestic traffic to the new Dulles Airport, as well as reduce noise and traffic level in the congested area surrounding National Airport.

But Congress inserted 44 slot exemptions to the rule over the past 12 years, with each slot representing one take-off or landing. In February, Congress passé da new law adding 16 new slot exemptions to new or "limited incumbent" carriers.

"These 60 slot exemptions will strain the facilities at [National airport]," WMAA says.

The airport was designed with the capacity limitations of the perimeter rule in mind, the authority adds. The strain will be felt particularly by airlines needing to park aircraft overnight on short notice. After the new slot exemptions are added, airlines will have claimed overnight parking spaces at all 44 gates and 26 of 28 parking spaces on the ramp, WMAA says.

The authority also says it will "carefully monitor" how the increased routes at National airport change traffic demand at Dulles.