British Airways To Launch New US-Europe Direct Carrier
Open skies... but a closed ramp? Plans in the works by British
Airways to spinoff a new airline between Europe and New York may be
jeopardy, due to the Federal Aviation Administration's desire to
curb traffic at congested John F. Kennedy International
The London Times reports the FAA will soon start talks with
several foreign airlines, including BA, to attempt to convince
those carriers to voluntarily reduce flights to JFK -- much as the
agency tried to do last week with domestic carriers, with decidedly
As ANN reported, in a two-day
meeting last week the FAA and Department of Transportation
attempted to convince the airlines to agree to voluntary
restrictions on flights at JFK, to curb delays and overscheduling.
DOT proposed a cap of 80 flights per hour during most periods, with
a 30-minute maximum of total flights at 44, and the 15-minute
maximum at 24 flights. The International Air Transport Association
(IATA) says JFK handles at least 100 flights an hour on some
The proposal was met with significant resistance from several
airlines, though Delta and JetBlue did later say they would shift
some flights away from busy periods at the airport.
British Airways plans to increase flights between London
Heathrow and JFK next year, after new "Open Skies" legislation
takes effect. The airline also plans to launch a new airline,
offering direct flights between Europe and the East Coast of the
US. BA hasn't yet announced routes for the new carrier, though may
presume JFK would be the natural choice, as the carrier already has
its own terminal there.
"We have not specified the
destination for the new airline, but New York is the obvious
destination," a British Airways spokesman said. "There would be an
impact on BA [if restrictions were enforced], and we watch
developments with interest. We would like this issue to be resolved
as soon as possible. We have tickets to sell."
An FAA spokesman told the Times the agency would impose limits
at JFK if airlines hadn't addressed the problem to its satisfaction
by mid-December. The IATA advised airlines looking to add service
to JFK, to take a good hard look at off-peak hours in order to
avoid those forced restrictions.
"Under a preliminary review of the schedule submissions for
summer 2008, the FAA notes that there are proposed schedule
increases by domestic carriers and foreign flag carriers," the
trade association said. "These proposed schedules will result in a
significant increase in operations at JFK. While JFK has available
capacity for additional flights during some periods of the day,
certain hours are currently beyond capacity and would only get
worse if the schedules were implemented as proposed . . . Carriers
with new flights planned for peak hours should consider alternative
schedules, especially for those planned in the late afternoon and
"We are very concerned that they [the FAA] will cap services in
and out of JFK," an IATA spokesman added. "Nothing is finalized but
the threat is there. Because the US has failed to grow its
infrastructure, it is trying to penalize airlines and passengers.
But, quite clearly, the status quo is not working."