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Feds may force airlines to reduce delays

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may step in and force airlines to cut flight schedules in an effort to reduce delays that have plagued the industry. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said on Tuesday, "The airlines need to take a step back on scheduling practices that are at times out of line with reality." Of particular concern to the FAA is overcrowding on the East Coast, particularly at the three New York City airports. "If the airlines don't address this voluntarily, don't be surprised when the government steps in," continued Blakey. Corporate aviation is also under fire from the FAA.

Not surprisingly, the airline industry and industry analysts are pushing back against the government. According to the AP the president of the Air Transport Association, Jim May has stated "I'm not saying we don't need to deal with scheduling, but it's only one of many different elements in a suite of solutions to the problem." Aviation consultant Mike Boyd finds fault with the FAA for not upgrading air traffic control systems that are 10 years out of date, saying "The skies are not crowded, the skies are mismanaged by the FAA."

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Delays this year are the worst since 1995, when the government began compiling data. At New York's JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, only 59 percent of flights arrived on time in July, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Clearly something needs to be done to reduce delays, but I'm skeptical the government will be able to intervene effectively or in a timely fashion.

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