Amid Much Opposition, Bidding To Commence Next Friday
In a three-hour meeting December 4, the Department of
Transportation informed approximately 80 airline executive and
lawyers of the details of the DOT's plan to auction takeoff and
landing time slots at the New York area's three busiest airports. A
similar gathering held Friday covered bidding procedures.
The half-hour slot purchases, good for 10 years, boast a reserve
price of $10,000 for peak time slots and $100 for off peak times.
Power Auctions president Lawrence M. Ausubel said he expected those
prices to be "well exceeded."
DOT spokeswoman Sarah Echols said the auctions would "reduce
congestion, keep air fares competitive and increase travel options
in the New York aviation market." The changes are to take effect at
La Guardia in March and at Kennedy and Newark in October, the New
York Times reported.
A statement released by Delta Air Lines blasted the lame-duck
boondoggle: "The last thing the administration should do in its
final days - especially in light of the flagging economy - is
inconvenience passengers who have already booked flights, raise
their fares, threaten jobs, and undermine the hundreds of millions
in investments airlines have made in the New York-area market."
As ANN reported, opposition to the plan has
been widespread. In August, the Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey boldly confronted the Department of Transportation, saying
the airports under its authority would refuse to accept any flights
using slots acquired via such auctions.
The Government Accountability Office
issued a ruling on September 30, saying the FAA does not have a
legal right to impose its slot auction plan at New York-area
"We conclude that FAA may not auction slots under its property
disposition authority, user fee authority, or any other authority,
and thus also may not retain or use proceeds of any such auctions,"
GAO general counsel Gary Kepplinger said in a letter to opponents
of the slot auction plan.
Kepplinger also questioned the FAA's decision to claim airspace
as its property... the first time the agency has taken that
position in 40 years, and a view the GAO's top lawyer says is in
direct contradiction to FAA bylaws.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the most bombastic and
outspoken critics of the agency, said, "This once again shows that
the DOT needs to put a stop to this ideological battle that would
cause chaos at New York airports. The administration has tried to
jam through a half-baked plan that can't even be implemented."