Says NYC-Area Delays Undermining Efforts Across Country
New air fare data released Wednesday by the
federal government underscores the need to allow all airlines
access to aviation markets, particularly where local airports have
hourly caps on available flights, US Secretary of Transportation
Mary E. Peters announced.
"Even though caps can cut delays, they also eliminate
competition, and without competition, air fares rise," Secretary
Peters said. "Competition is the key to lower fares, and slot
auctions are the best way to get new airlines to serve New York's
airports while caps are in place."
Peters noted while average domestic airfares in the second
quarter of 2008 are up 8 percent nationwide, fares at capped
airports increased at a faster rate. Most noticeably, the average
airfare at Newark Liberty International Airport grew at double that
rate, up 16 percent, after caps were put in place in May of this
Airfares at airports with histories of hourly flight caps, like
O'Hare, JFK and LaGuardia airports, also increased faster than the
national average, Secretary Peters added. Meanwhile, airfares
declined by more than 25 percent in a single year when a new
airline began serving Philadelphia, demonstrating that competition
helps keep fares low, the Secretary said.
To address the lack of competition, the Department has issued
rules to allow all carriers access to New York's three capped
airports, where physical constraints make it virtually impossible
to add new runways. Peters noted the hourly caps would be lifted at
O'Hare by the end of October, though she added Chicago's efforts to
expand capacity were being undermined by the record airline delays
at New York's airports.
"No amount of new concrete will help if your planes are stuck in
New York," Peters said. "Chicago shouldn't have to play second city
to New York's aviation shortcomings."
As ANN has reported, those caps are vehemently
opposed by major airlines, as well as transportation officials
along the northeast corridor. The Government Accountability Office
has ruled the agency is outside its legal rights in pushing for a
slot auction plan at capped airports.