Dulles, which is now significantly busier than National, no longer needs Congress' help. Nor does it make sense to favor United Airlines, Dulles' most active carrier, over US Airways, its rival at National. A group of senators led by John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer  (D-Calif.) has proposed to let airlines make more nonstop flights to cities in the West if they reduce the number of flights they make to major hubs inside the 1,250-mile perimeter.

   The proposal wouldn't cause more planes to fly into and out of the airport, or meaningfully increase the number of passengers or the size of aircraft flying there. But it would mean better service to California, which would probably receive half of the new nonstop flights. (One possible deal would allow 21 more long-distance nonstops daily.) Ideally, Congress would free airlines to respond to the market and comply with the airport's tough noise restrictions as they saw fit. The proposal by Ensign and Boxer, however, is a fair compromise.  (LAT)