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Sen. Cruz, Reps. Roy, Castro, Mayor Nirenberg Outline Next Steps for Nonstop Flight from San Antonio to Washington, D.C.

New FAA law delivers round-trip flights to San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, Texas U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), U.S. Representatives Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, along with aviation and community leaders, hosted a press conference to highlight the passing of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 into law and its provision for a nonstop flight from San Antonio International Airport (SAT) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Sen. Cruz discussed the benefits this bipartisan law will deliver to the residents of Military City, USA, and outlined the next steps for bringing a direct flight to San Antonio.

The law, which Sen. Cruz authored as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, secured five new round-trip flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from locations previously excluded from direct flights. As for next steps, the Department of Transportation will soon announce the application procedures for the eligible airlines.

About the FAA bill becoming law and securing a nonstop flight to San Antonio Sen. Cruz said, “We’re here to celebrate a tremendous victory for Texas, and a tremendous victory for the city of San Antonio. … Just last week President Biden signed into law the FAA Reauthorization bill. This was the bill that took months—I was the lead author of it along with Maria Cantwell, Democrat from Washington State—the two of us drafted the bill together, and it took hundreds of hours, many months, working though the committee….this bill is an over $100 billion bill, making major investments in aviation.

“It was three years ago that the mayor and the leaders of the San Antonio community came to my office and sat down with me in my office and said the city of San Antonio is united, we want a flight to Reagan. … and they asked me then, they said, ‘Will you take the lead, will you fight to make this happen,’ and I gave my word then, said, ‘Yes I will, and we’re gonna get this done.’

“Now I will tell you and it may sound astonishing but it is true: The single biggest battle on this bill was this new direct flight from San Antonio to DC-Reagan. … And at the end of this battle, Texas prevailed.”

Watch the full press conference here.

FAA Reauthorization Act Delivers for the Lone Star State:

  • A historic $4 billion per year in funding for airport infrastructure projects that will boost capacity and safety at airports across Texas and the nation.
  • Five additional exemptions to statutory “perimeter rule,” allowing new round-trip flights to and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) from locations previously excluded from direct flights. This will provide the ability for a direct flight from San Antonio to DCA, delivering a more convenient travel experience for members of the military traveling from Joint Base San Antonio, business travelers, and tourists.
  • Directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers. Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) for both the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas have been understaffed in recent years.
    • A provision authorizing the creation of a Center for Advanced Aviation Technologies for new and emerging aviation technologies including for advanced air mobility and powered-lift. This center would be responsible for testing and advancing these technologies including by overseeing the development and related activities of testing corridors and other flight demonstration zones. Importantly, the Center would also work to facilitate partnerships between industry, academia, and related government agencies to further unleash innovative aviation technologies.
    • An adjustment to the bill’s discretionary airport improvement program funding structures that would boost McKinney National Airport’s efforts to become the third primary commercial airport in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. While the terminal expansion will be primarily financed at the local level, the bill expands McKinney National’s eligibility for up to $20 million in federal funding.
  • Reforms aimed at better integrating commercial space activities into the national airspace system to assist launch providers in navigating complicated airspace, a boost for Texas’ thriving commercial space industry.
  • Provisions that could benefit Texas universities seeking to develop aviation-related curriculum and workforce development programs such as Texas Woman’s University and Angelo State University.
  • Reforms to FAA’s State Block Grant and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) administrative funding programs that will greatly benefit the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • Funding that will improve the operational capabilities for the FAA’s UAS test range managed by Texas A&M and located in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • A measure addressing the recent devastating wildfires in Texas by directing the FAA to develop a plan to better integrate the use of unmanned aircraft systems to help fight wildfires.
  • A provision that will streamline approvals to allow for more drone operations for offshore oil and gas facilities in international waters.
  • New guidance directing the FAA to establish a process to enable test and demonstration flights for hypersonic and supersonic aircraft making it possible that a test corridor could be established in Texas.