Opponents Cheer Victory Against 'Ill-Advised Scheme'
came down to the wire, but on Monday a US appeals court blocked the
federal government's controversial plan to auction off operations
slots at New York's LaGuardia and JFK International Airports, and
at nearby Newark International.
The Department of Transportation planned to hold those auctions
January 12, under a federal order that was to have taken effect
As ANN reported last week, DOT advised
airlines of the starting pricetags for the slots: $10,000 for peak
time slots, and $100 for off-peak times.
DOT believes the auctions would "reduce congestion, keep air
fares competitive and increase travel options in the New York
aviation market" -- the most crowded sector of airspace in the
Whatever the possible merits of the plan, the US Court of
Appeals ruled Monday the Transportation Department moved too fast,
too soon in forcing through the slot auctions... and granted a stay
requested last month by the Air Transport Association, the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey and Continental Airlines last
The court's decision blocks any further action on the DOT's part
to implement the slot auction plan, until the court formally
considers and rules on the merits of the case.
Predictably, the appeals court's granting of the stay was lauded
by opponents to the controversial plan. ATA president Jim May said
his organization was "pleased" the court "recognized the
irreparable harm that auctions would have caused passengers.
"The court's ruling puts a firm halt to the Department of
Transportation's ill-advised, illogical auction scheme," May added.
"This is a clear win for passengers, as the department was stopped
from proceeding with an ideological experiment that would have
resulted in higher fares, less service and a confiscation of
That sentiment was echoed by Greg Principato, president of the
Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA).
"Airport proprietors are in the best position to manage the use
of the facilities they plan, design, fund, build and currently
operate. Slot auctions mandated by the federal government would not
have reduced delays or improved efficiency, competition or
passenger service," Principato said. "We are pleased that the US
Court of Appeals ruling vindicated the airport position that the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has no statutory authority to
force the slot auctions, which are universally opposed by the
"FAA should focus on working collaboratively with the PANYNJ to
develop and implement a reasonable and effective program to reduce
passenger delays and congestion."