AUSTIN, Texas - Congressional lawmakers are expected to take up legislation Wednesday night that re-authorizes the FAA. An Austin business group is weighing in on a key part of that debate.
Congress is considering a proposal to increase the number of flights allowed in and out of Reagan National Airport across the river from Washington D.C.
The idea would amend what's known as the "Perimeter Rule." Currently, only flights from destinations within 1,250 miles from Reagan National are permitted. The rule does include an exemption for a limited number of flights.
Austin only has one non-stop flight to Reagan National.
The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is part a national coalition called the Capital Access Alliance, which wants Congress to amend the rule.
"Austin, of course, just earned its spot as a 10th largest city in the nation. And it's time. It's time we have this measure of accessibility because we've got a lot to offer," said Brittney Rodriguez. COO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
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More direct flights to DC from Austin, according to Rodriguez, will save time and money for their members.
"We look at this as an opportunity for accessibility and accessibility that's needed. We think that this is coming at an auspicious time, certainly when we also understand that the demographics of our state are changing," Rodriguez said. "As of this year, we now know that the Latino population is the largest population in the state, and we're very proud, of course, to advocate on behalf of that community, not just in Austin, but statewide. So again, what we look at this opportunity as is an opportunity to help our members directly connect to the people and places where decisions are being made. Fair opportunity is available, and advancement is a promise. So I think we're excited about this opportunity, but we're certainly vying for this and certainly this change that we think will benefit all."
Those who are opposed to amending the FAA rule claim it will increase congestion at Reagan National and cause delays there.
Three airlines provide nonstop flights from Austin to Dulles International, which is located west of DC. There are also direct flights from Austin to Baltimore.