Hopefully some good news for the Commercial Airlines in the upcoming summer travel season!
Airlines Agree to Share Burden of Flight Delays
Parts of Long Waits to Be Handed Off
By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 25, 2004; Page E06
The government and the airline industry have agreed to cooperate in reducing long delays at the nation's busiest airports during the peak spring and summer travel seasons.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta unveiled a system yesterday at the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control center in Herndon that creates more delays for travelers but of shorter duration. The intent is to spread short delays more widely to reduce overall flight congestion from delays of 90 minutes or more.
The system, which went into effect Monday, relies on cooperation between the FAA, airline executives, pilots, and air traffic controller and aviation groups. The airlines have signed on in the expectation that they will be freed of the long delays that sometimes hobble their operations and irritate their passengers during the busy season.
The sharing of the burden works like this: If a flight has experienced a 30-minute delay that looks likely to expand to 90 minutes, the airlines and the FAA will hold up another flight to allow the first one to depart. As a result, a potential 90-minute delay that would have been shouldered by one flight will be shared by two, with a 45-minute delay for each.
The system aims to prevent long delays from piling up and spreading throughout the aviation system, creating still worse slowdowns around the country.
Industry representatives met for three days earlier this month in a conference the FAA called "Growth Without Gridlock." The meeting failed to produce a formal agreement, but it did get the sides to agree for the first time to focus on reducing delays.
Under the system, planes from nearby smaller airports would be delayed to make way for flights heading into larger metropolitan airports. For example, a flight from Ithaca, N.Y., that crowds the Northeast corridor would be delayed to ease traffic into New York's LaGuardia Airport.
The effort announced yesterday is the latest step in a government strategy to smooth air travel. Three years ago, the government pressured airlines to provide more information to passengers about the status of their flights and to be more accommodating during long delays. Earlier this year, the FAA persuaded United and American airlines to reduce their flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where both carriers operate heavy schedules. Those flight reductions were aimed at trimming delays.