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Mon, Oct 29, 2007

JetBlue, Delta To Cut Some JFK Flights

Airlines Say FAA’s Plan Favors Overseas Carriers

Delta and JetBlue airlines are cutting their afternoon and evening schedules to keep the Federal Aviation Administration from taking over John F. Kennedy International Airport’s flight program.

The schedule reductions came after the FAA threatened earlier this week to cap flights out of JFK at 80 per hour, a 20% reduction, according to Crain’s New York Business.

The changes agreed to by Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways will shift flights away from the airport's peak hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We want to participate in the short run with the FAA," says Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson, "even though we don’t think it will be efficient in the long run."

The Air Transport Association, which represents most major U.S. carriers, opposes the FAA’s proposal. Anderson is also fighting the cap but says he is willing to work with the FAA "for the good of the whole."

The FAA’s wanted to eliminate flights altogether.

The airlines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports, insist there are technological and logistical fixes that could later allow for the expansion of flights.

The problem with the FAA proposal is that it favors International carriers, according to Jim May of the ATA. The recently approved Open Skies Rule will bring more European carriers to JFK, but they are likely to be exempt from the cap.

"It’s essentially taking slots away from us and giving [slots] to them," says May. "We won’t be able to compete."

Delta Air Lines will eliminate all propeller planes by next summer, and will cut out some small regional jets. It will also shift some of its flights out of peak hours.

JetBlue, JFK’s largest domestic carrier, will move dozens of flights out of peak hours by next year, cancel service to Nashville and Columbus, and shift several flights from JFK to Westchester County Airport.

"We look at it as self-help," says a JetBlue spokesman. "JFK is so important to us; we need to take the lead here."



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