JFK, Newark may get reprieve from delays

Travelers may finally see some reprieve from massive flight delays at the New York City-area airports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has requested flight scheduling information for spring and summer 2008 at JFK and Newark airports, a rare occurrence from the agency, according to a Reuters report.

"This could result in operational limits during peak hours," the FAA warned airlines. The FAA will review schedules between peak business travel times from March to November next year, from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m., and from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. Currently the FAA regulates flights at only two airports, New York LaGuardia and Chicago O'Hare.

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A spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Doug Church, recently told me that "at New York (JFK), the airlines have scheduled more than 50 flights to depart in one hour's time on weekday mornings. Yet the airport can only safely depart 45 aircraft when the weather's good. The resulting overflow of delayed aircraft spills into the next hour, and the next, and so on." Delays between October 2006 and July 27 jumped 114 percent at JFK, and the airport's arrival rate in July was the worst of any major airport.

If FAA regulation of flight schedules will reduce delays at JFK and Newark, I think it's a good thing. Though you might expect airlines to fight government involvement, JetBlue has offered its support for the measures in a recent statement and proposed a meeting among airlines to discuss next years' scheduling.

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