Third round of reductions this year aimed at slashing delays at Chicago airport

US airlines have agreed to lower their Chicago O'Hare peak-hour arrivals as a temporary step to improve timekeeping at the nation's most-delayed hub, following pressure from the US government.

The new arrival rates - 88 an hour between 07:00 and 20:00 - will be in place between 1 November and 30 April, but could be extended. Arrival rates now are 110 to 132 an hour.

The two dominant carriers at O'Hare, with 86% of its flights between them, will make most cuts. United Airlines will trim 20 arrivals while American Airlines will cancel 17 incoming flights scheduled between 12:00 and 20:00, says the US Department of Transportation. It is the third round of reductions this year, after previous peak-hour flight schedules fell by a combined 7.5% under voluntary agreements.

Other carriers added services after those reductions were agreed, and as weather stayed uncooperative, O'Hare delays by early summer were reaching a third of flights and slowing the national system, says the US Federal Aviation Administration. The two dominant carriers had blamed low-cost competitors such as the newly launched Independence Air for adding flights, but American and United insist that passengers will not lose services and that the new limits will not lead to higher fares.

Smaller carriers with eight or fewer flights a day at O'Hare will be allowed to add a flight at 13:00, 15:00, or 18:00, but other airlines must freeze their schedules and seek FAA permission to reschedule flights. The FAA believes that the limits should reduce O'Hare's delays by 20% by year end.



Source: Flight International