Updated with comments from the PANYNJ and United Airlines

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing changes to slot utilisation and trading at the three New York City area airports, in an effort to increase utilisation.

The regulator is proposing tying the use of a specific slot at New York John F. Kennedy International, New York LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports to a certain flight for a season, in a proposed rule that will be published in the Federal Register on 8 January. This would limit the ability of airlines to shift flights to different slots as needed in order to meet usage requirements, it adds.

The FAA anticipates that “carriers would incrementally increase actual operations in year one to meet the new usage requirement”.

Airlines would still have to use slots at the three airports a minimum of 80% of the time under the proposed rules. Usage exemptions during the busy Christmas and Thanksgiving travel periods would be eliminated.

Slots are capped at 81 per hour at both JFK and Newark from 06:00 to 22:59 daily, and at 71 per hour at LaGuardia from 06:00 to 21:59 from Monday through Friday and from 12:00 to 21:59 on Sundays.

The FAA would impose new daily slot limits of 1,205 at JFK and Newark, and 1,136 at LaGuardia under the new rules. It would also increase the number of allowed unscheduled operations to two at JFK and one at Newark from none, and maintain the allowed three at LaGuardia.

The reforms do not go far enough to increase slot usage, says the airports operator the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).

"The FAA’s proposed rule continues the practice of placing arbitrarily low caps on flight operations at New York and New Jersey’s airports," the operator tells Flightglobal. "While some effort was made in the proposed rule to better utilise existing slots and introduce greater transparency to the process, much more work remains in addressing this long standing constraint that stifles competition and hurts the flying public."

Delta Air Lines has the largest slot holdings at JFK and LaGuardia with a 31% share and 45% share, respectively, and United Airlines the largest at Newark with a 73% share, FAA data shows. American Airlines has 17% of the slots at JFK and 29% of the slots at LaGuardia.

"The New York/New Jersey region is a key market for United and our customers," says Chicago-based United. "We are reviewing the proposal and look forward to a final rule that serves the best interests of our customers."

Fort Worth, Texas-based American says that it is reviewing the proposed rule changes but declines to comment further.

The FAA also hopes to set-up a new secondary market for the sale, lease or trading of slots at the three airports. It proposes five different market structures that range from one where deals are negotiated privately and only disclosed once they are approved by the regulator to one where potential deals are disclosed before regulatory approval or where deals are managed by the FAA as blind auctions with details disclosed only after they close.

The regulator reserves the right to review the competitive impact of any deal under the proposed rules.

Delta and JetBlue Airways - the second largest holder of slots at JFK - were not immediately available for comment.

Source: Cirium Dashboard