By Stavros Anthony, Reno Gazette Journal, July 5, 2023
The flight delays that we saw this July 4th weekend are not all the fault of the airlines. Congress plays a key role in the operation of the Federal Aviation Administration, and they have been slow to act on a reauthorization bill that will provide adequate funding for personnel as well as upgrading their antiquated radar tracking system.
We will feel these delays locally. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport put out a press release saying they are expecting the largest holiday passenger volumes so far this year, with approximately 60,000 passengers traveling through the airport Independence Day weekend, surpassing a bustling Memorial Day weekend. The busiest days were expected to be June 29 and 30, and July 2.
As Nevada’s lieutenant governor and chair of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, I am concerned about how these travel delays impact our state’s tourism, as well as our residents.
That is why I am frustrated that there are some in Congress who are using the FAA reauthorization process to push for more flights to Washington, D.C. for their own convenience, instead of addressing how millions of airline passengers are being adversely impacted by an outdated and underfunded FAA.
There is a push in the current FAA reauthorization bill to expand landing slots at Reagan Airport. While it seems like this is a not a relevant issue here in Nevada, in a state heavily dependent on tourism, air service is a critical issue, and any changes to airport operations can have far-reaching consequences.
Reagan Airport management asserts that the airport is already operating at full capacity. Expanding the number of landing slots would undoubtedly strain the airport’s infrastructure, leading to increased delays and potential disruptions to the existing flight schedule. The ripple effect of these delays can be detrimental not only to passengers traveling to and from Washington, D.C. but also to those connecting through the airport to various other destinations.
The impact of this expansion goes beyond the immediate concerns of efficiency and travel experience. Las Vegas — an essential tourist destination, particularly for individuals residing on the East Coast — could suffer the consequences. With more landing slots allocated to Reagan Airport, resources and flights could be diverted away from other destinations like Las Vegas. This diversion would result in reduced accessibility and frequency of flights to and from Nevada, a blow to both the tourism industry and the options available to visitors.
Therefore, I urge our federal delegation to oppose any attempts to change the current high-density slot and perimeter rules at Washington’s National Airport. These rules are in place to maintain the delicate balance of air service operations and ensure a smooth travel experience for all passengers. Any hasty decisions to expand landing slots without fully evaluating the potential consequences could have long-lasting negative effects on both Washington, D.C. and the tourism industry in Nevada.
Instead, Congress and the administration should be working on behalf of the traveling public who are sadly missing weddings, funerals, vacations and work; and ensure that the FAA is properly funded and adequately staffed!
Stavros Anthony is Nevada’s lieutenant governor.
Have your say:How to submit an opinion column or letter to the editor