JFK Caps, 'Holiday Express Lanes' Coming; Congestion Pricing
Secretary Mary E. Peters announced Wednesday a series measures to
reduce airline delays over the holiday season, and new actions
designed to reduce congestion in the New York area starting next
"These new measures will cut delays, protect consumer choice,
support New York’s economy, and allow for new flights as we
bring new capacity online," Peters (shown at right) said.
She said the new measures include an agreement to cap hourly
operations at JFK International Airport, plans for hourly limits at
Newark and capacity improvements for the region, and were based on
input from a multi-month process that involved airlines, airports
and consumer advocates.
The agreement among the major airlines serving JFK caps the
number of flights at either 82 or 83 per hour, depending on the
time of day, Secretary Peters said. The hourly caps will take
effect March 15, 2008 and will be in place for 2008 and 2009.
Airlines will be able to shift their flights to times of the day
when the airport has unused capacity, allowing 50 more flights per
day than were offered last summer -- just more reasonably spaced,
Peters also directed the FAA to enter into negotiations to also
set hourly caps at Newark International Airport -- to keep airlines
from simply shifting flights from JFK to the nearby New Jersey
airport. Effective Wednesday, Peters also announced new take-off
patterns at Newark and Philadelphia International Airport that will
allow aircraft to fan out after take off and provide more options
for aircraft waiting to depart.
She said the FAA is working closely with airports and airlines
to make similar operational improvements next year, including new
satellite-based navigation procedures for the New York and
Philadelphia airports that will allow improved bad weather routing,
and allowing shorter flights to operate at lower altitudes to open
more room for long-haul flights at higher altitudes.
Peters also authorized the appointment of an aviation "czar" to
serve as director of the newly-created New York Integration Office.
The czar will coordinate regional airspace issues and all projects
and initiatives addressing problems of congestion and delays in New
York. And as operational improvements increase capacity at area
airports, new slots will be leased to airlines with the revenue
being used for airspace and airport improvements in the region.
Heartened by a
successful trial run over the Thanksgiving holiday, Peters also
said the FAA and Defense Department will open military airspace to
commercial flights over the Atlantic seaboard from the evening of
December 21 to the morning of the December 26 for Christmas travel,
and from evening of December 28 to the morning of January 2 for New
Years. In addition, western military airspace will be opened from
December 21 to the morning of January 2 to help accommodate flights
in and out of southern California, she said.
"These Holiday Express lanes in the sky will give airlines the
wiggle room they need to avoid backups, evade weather, and dodge
delays," Peters said.
In addition, Peters said she has formed a new federal advisory
task force that will help airlines and airports better coordinate
when unexpected weather strands passengers on tarmacs and in
airports. She also authorized the FAA to exercise liberal use of
overtime to make sure facilities are staffed to handle the surge in
traffic, and placed a moratorium on non-essential maintenance
through the holidays so controllers can focus on traffic.
One item not included in the DOT's plan is so-called "congestion
pricing" -- forcing airlines to pay more for slots during peak
traffic times. As ANN reported, the agency
bowed to pressure from an airline industry coalition -- including
the Air Transport Association, and the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey -- which opposed the idea, calling the notion
illegal and expensive, adding it hasn't been tested on a large
Peters said she will continue talks with airlines and airports
to look at ways to utilize broader market-based mechanisms to
combat delays not only in the New York region, but in clogged
aviation centers elsewhere around the country.
The Secretary also took the opportunity to press Congress to act
on FAA Reauthorization, that she says would enable FAA to move
forward with a next generation air traffic system. "By eliminating
this single delay, Congress can help end aviation gridlock, expand
aviation capacity, and keep our skies safe," Peters said.