SAN ANTONIO – A big push for direct flights between San Antonio and Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., was denied Thursday afternoon and the vote to end a 1966 federal regulation will not go before the U.S. House of Representatives later this week.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, joined by Congressmen Henry Cuellar and Will Hurd, were making an effort to repeal the regulation that prevented direct flights from the Alamo City to the nation’s capital.
The regulation, also known as the “perimeter rule,” blocked nonstop service outside a 1,250-mile radius with San Antonio just outside that boundary.
However, cities outside the boundary such as Austin have been issued “beyond perimeter” exemptions to include direct flights to D.C. in recent years.
On Wednesday, Nirenberg tweeted, “I stand with America's military. Allowing nonstop air service between Military City, USA and our nation's capital should be a national priority. Congress, please update the 1966 law that bars flights between @SATairport and @Reagan_Airport #SAT2DCA.”
I stand with America's military. Allowing nonstop air service between Military City, USA and our nation's capital should be a national priority. Congress, please update the 1966 law that bars flights between @SATairport and @Reagan_Airport. #SAT2DCA— Mayor Ron Nirenberg (@Ron_Nirenberg) April 26, 2018
Despite the Congressmen introducing a bipartisan amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing airlines to provide nonstop flights from airports near military medical facilities -- like the one in San Antonio -- the proposal was pulled Thursday from a House vote.
The airlines said the amendment would affect passenger safety, retirement pensions for their employees and politicize the selection process.
((TO VIEW THE DOCUMENTS, CLICK ON THE HIGHLIGHTED LINKS ABOVE))
Since learning the bipartisan amendment was withdrawn, Nirenberg, Hurd, and Cuellar issued the following statements to KSAT.com.
San Antonio Mayor Nirenberg's Statement:
"This was a narrowly-crafted solution for Military City USA. I am grateful to Congressmen Cuellar and Hurd and the rest of our delegation, whose bipartisan teamwork was tremendous. We are extremely disappointed that fear and misinformation won the day."
U.S. Rep Hurd’s Statement:
"If adopted, this amendment would have allowed airlines the option to provide nonstop service from airports near military medical facilities directly to Reagan Airport and the Pentagon if the free-market showed demand. Unfortunately for military personnel and their families, United and American Airlines fear increased competition to their routes from SAT to Dulles and stood in the way of saving thousands of taxpayer dollars and up to a half-million military man hours that could be spent on critical national security needs."
U.S. Rep Cuellar's Statement:
"This was a bipartisan amendment that would have improved access to the entire region and it is disappointing that this amendment was brought to the 5-yard line, but forced to be pulled because United and America Airlines misled our fellow members and the public-at-large using scare tactics and completely false information. These airlines falsely claimed that we were going to undermine retirees’ pensions, diminish passenger safety, threaten service in more than half the country, and many other things that were demonstrably false. By undercutting this proposal and misrepresenting our intent, they robbed our military, veterans, military contractors, and their families in San Antonio of greater service options they deserved. The free market should determine where airlines and passengers fly, not lobbyists and arcane provisions in the law. Our commitment to increasing access to San Antonio and the region at large has not wavered and we will renew efforts to educate our fellow members with facts so that when we pursue this again the public interest, rather than the special interest, will prevail."