A schedule reduction proposal for New York JFK tabled by the US FAA in advance of tomorrow’s meeting with airlines has drawn fire from lobbying group the Air Transport Association (ATA).

The FAA’s initial targets, which aim to reduce overscheduling and flight delays during peak hours of operation at JFK, call for 80 flights per hour from 0600 to 2159, except for between 1500 and 1959, when the target will be 81 flights. The regulator has also set a 30min maximum of total flights at 44 and the 15min maximum at 24 flights.

Additionally, to “evenly spread demand for both arrivals and departures and to make the best use of the airport’s runway configuration”, the number of arrivals or departures may not exceed 53 in any one hour period, 29 in any 30min period or 16 in any 15min period.

The FAA previously managed congestion at JFK through the High Density Rule (HDR), which limited aircraft operations at JFK during the five hours of peak transatlantic demands - 1500 through 1959.

But the HDR was phased out at JFK on January 1, permitting increased scheduling at the airport during the afternoon hours. Additionally, notes the FAA, since the spring of 2006, JFK has evolved from its traditionally international role, as US airlines have significantly increased their domestic scheduled operations throughout the day. Most of the increase has come from the two largest operators at the airport, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways.

Responding to the agency’s proposal, ATA CEO James May says:  “This is a disappointing decision. Slashing operations at JFK alone will not solve the congestion problem but will shut the door on growth for our country’s leading international gateway

“We know that there are better solutions to New York’s capacity needs and we are committed to working with FAA to put them into effect.”              

US transportation secretary Mary Peters, FAA officials and airlines will meet tomorrow in Washington DC to discuss schedule reduction schemes for JFK. Peters says the US Government’s “strong preference is to develop market-based solutions that will address delays and preserve passenger choice”.

She warns, however, that it “will consider scheduling reductions as a last resort in order to prevent a repeat of this summer’s nightmare delays”.

The meeting is one of two efforts by George W Bush’s Administration to reduce flight delays in the New York City metropolitan area because delays there have a ripple effect on the rest of country. The other effort involves the creation of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to research market-based options for alleviating congestion and flight delays in the New York area.

Comprised of representatives from the DOT, the FAA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; airlines operating at LaGuardia Airport, JFK, Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport, consumer groups and aviation employee groups, ARC has a December deadline to deliver proposals to Bush.

Source: FlightGlobal.com