Rep. Nehls Introduces Bill to Remove Disney’s “No-Fly Zone”

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Troy E. Nehls (R-TX-22) introduced the Airlines Independent of Restrictions Act (AIR) Act, which directs the Secretary of Transportation to rescind the two “no-fly zone” Notice to Airman (NOTAM’s) over Disneyland and Disneyworld. While most flight restricted areas in the United States reside over places of high security or hazardous regions, Disney is the only theme park that benefits from the restriction for the commercial gains of eliminating banner ads and disruptive aircrafts from their parks.

“The federal government should not grant special privileges and pick favorites for powerful well-connected companies like Disney,” said Congressman Nehls. “Measures designed to protect our national security and public safety should not be co-opted by corporations looking to gain.”

BACKGROUND:

  • In 2003, Congress passed Section 352 of Public Law 108-7 which was later amended by Section 521 of Public Law 109-199. These acts created permanent “temporary” flight restrictions in the airspace over Disney resorts in FL and CA.
  • The inclusion of Disney resorts was the result of lobbying efforts by Disney and was tucked away in a must pass spending bill weeks before the Iraq war. These restrictions only applied to Disney’s parks. No other theme parks in America have restrictions on airspace.
  • In the case of Disney Resorts, the FAA official notice to airman references “special security reasons” as a justification for the restrictions, but safety regulators at FAA have questioned the need for these restrictions. The Disney provision passed Congress without a request from a single national-security agency, and it was not subjected to public or private review by the congressional committees that are supposed to sign off on homeland security and transportation policy changes.
  • In 2003, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the decision “angered pilots across the country who accuse Disney of manipulating the nation’s terrorism fears for once clear commercial aim: to close public airspace over its parks as a way to ban competitors’ aerial advertising planes and sightseeing helicopters.”
  • Disney’s own spokesperson Leslie Goodman stated “enjoyment meant everything from keeping out banner ads from trial lawyers to pilots buzzing the parks.”
  • In May 2022, Rep. Nehls sent letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg raising concerns on the appropriateness of Disney’s designated “no fly-zone” over their resorts.

Cosponsors include Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Scott Perry (R-FL), Gregory Steube (R-FL), and Mo Brooks (R-AL).

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