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Wed, Aug 06, 2008

DOT's Peters Announces Newark Slot Auction

Airlines Threaten Lawsuit

US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has announced an upcoming event the major US airlines hoped would never happen.

On September 3, the DOT will auction one slot for a daily round trip flight serving Newark Liberty Airport. The lease will have a five-year term, and DOT promises the revenue will be spent on measures to reduce delays and enhance capacity at New York-area airports.

In making the announcement, Peters (right) said, "This auction will allow us to implement market mechanisms on a small scale, gauge interest and determine a slot’s market value. However, the real winners in this auction will be consumers, who stand to benefit from more reliable air service that costs less in terms of both time and money."

Two slots were originally allocated to Eos Airlines, but that airline filed for bankruptcy. After terms and conditions of the lease are made available on the FAA’s procurement Web site, public comments will be accepted until August 18.

A final notice and invitation to bid will be published August 25, and the auction will take place on September 3.

"Market-based mechanisms are the best way to assure consumers will receive quality service at affordable prices, and we’ve proposed several measures that embrace these mechanisms. Indeed, such measures have been very successful at managing congestion in other transportation modes and can provide strong incentives for more efficient use of a strained resource, like New York-area airports," Peters added.

The Air Transport Association, which represents major US carriers, isn't waiting to see how that comment period plays out. ATA said Tuesday the group plans to sue the DOT, to prevent what CEO James May called "this illegal action."

FMI: www.dot.gov, www.airlines.org

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