Congress is angry over flights at a Washington, DC, airport

Ronald Reagan National Airport is taking on more planes than it can handle — and causing a congressional feud

Photo collage of the US Capitol building with many planes taking off behind it, fanning out in a symmetrical formation, similar to an airshow
Reagan National had more than 25 million passengers in 2023, eliciting concerns about its flight capacity
(Image credit: Illustration by Julia Wytrazek / Getty Images)

There is a fight brewing on Capitol Hill, but it may not be the one you're expecting. Members of Congress have reached a boiling point — over an airport. Specifically, a group of politicians are feuding over the recent allowance of additional long-distance flights at Washington, D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. 

Despite being significantly smaller than Washington's Dulles International Airport, Reagan National is the busiest airport in the nation's capital, and "broke its all-time passenger traffic record with 25.5 million passengers in 2023," said the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. This comes out to nearly one flight at the airport every minute. Despite its heavy traffic, Reagan National is typically a short-haul airport, with just 11 available routes being longer than 1,250 miles. However, Congress has now made a major change that is irking some senators. 

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Justin Klawans, The Week US

 Justin Klawans has worked as a staff writer at The Week since 2022. He began his career covering local news before joining Newsweek as a breaking news reporter, where he wrote about politics, national and global affairs, business, crime, sports, film, television and other Hollywood news. Justin has also freelanced for outlets including Collider and United Press International.