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ITB
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EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:06 am

With air traffic and passenger numbers continuing to grow at EWR, it appears it's only a matter of time before the facility will be designated an IATA Level 3 airport under the Worldwide Slot Guidelines (WSG).

According to information included in the FAA's Notice of Submission Deadline for Schedule Information for Chicago O'Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport for the Summer 2019 Scheduling Season, published September 9, 2018 in the Federal Register (link below), air traffic and movements at EWR, as well as ORD, JFK, LAX and SFO, are being closely monitored.

According to the Notice, the FAA is primarily concerned about "scheduled and other regularly conducted commercial operations during peak hours" at the aforementioned five airports. Peak hours at EWR and JFK, per the Notice, are deemed to be from 0600 to 2300 Eastern Time (1000 to 0300 UTC).

Addressing schedules specifically at EWR, the Notice had this to say:

The FAA is continuing to monitor operations and delays at EWR and to identify ways to improve performance metrics and operational efficiency, and achieve delay reductions in a Level 2 environment. Demand for access to EWR and the New York City area remains high. Recent requests for flights at EWR have exceeded the scheduling limits in the 8 a.m. and 1300-2159 local hours. The FAA has advised carriers in prior seasons that it would not be able to accommodate all requests for new or retimed operations in peak hours and worked with carriers to identify times that were available. In some limited cases, carriers were able to swap with other airlines for their preferred times in the peak for winter 2018. Carriers may continue to seek swaps in order to operate within the peak. However, the FAA also continues to seek the voluntary cooperation of all carriers operating in peak hours to retime operations out of the peak to improve performance at EWR.

For the summer 2019 season, the hourly scheduling limit remains at 79 Start Printed Page 49157operations and 43 operations per half-hour. To help with a balance between arrivals and departures, the maximum number of scheduled arrivals or departures, respectively, is 43 in an hour and 24 in a half-hour. This would allow some higher levels of operations in certain periods (not to exceed the hourly limits) and some recovery from lower demand in adjacent periods. The FAA will accept flights above the limits if the flights were operated on a regular basis in summer 2018, but again, the FAA seeks cooperation of carriers to retime operations, to the extent feasible, out of the peak period. Additionally, the FAA will consider whether demand exceeds the limits in adjacent periods and consider average demand before determining whether there is availability for new flights in a particular period. However, the operational performance of the airport is unlikely to improve unless peak demand is reduced and schedules remain within the airport's arrival and departure limits.

The FAA notes that despite efforts to facilitate voluntary scheduling cooperation at EWR, and reductions in the hourly scheduling limits,[4] average demand for summer 2018 in the afternoon and evening hours remains at 81 operations per hour as it was in summer 2017. There are periods when the demand in half-hours or consecutive half-hours exceeds the optimum runway capacity and the scheduling limits in this notice. The imbalance of scheduled arrivals and departures in certain periods has contributed to increased congestion and delays when the demand exceeds the arrival or departure rates. In particular, retiming a minimal number of arrivals in the early afternoon hours from the 1400 local hour to the 1300 and 1200 hours could have significant delay reduction benefits and help preserve the Level 2 designation at EWR.

Based on historical demand, the FAA anticipates the 0700 to 0859 and 1330 to 2159 periods to be unavailable for new flights. Consistent with the WSG, carriers should be prepared to adjust schedules to meet the hourly limits in order to minimize potential congestion and delay. Carriers are again reminded that runway approval must be obtained from the FAA in addition to any requirements for approval from airport terminal or other facilities prior to operation.


The last paragraph is particularly illuminating. No additional flights at EWR are to be scheduled from 0700 to 0859 and 1330 to 2159. So, Newark is currently considered maxed out for 10.5 hours a day, or nearly 62% of its peak hours. As such, the Notice seems to convey the impression EWR is rapidly approaching the moment when it will designated an IATA Level 3 facility, which means it will be slot controlled. It appears it is no longer a question of "if" but "when." But exactly when is unclear and will, undoubtedly, involve many factors. It may be several years away or may not. Nevertheless, with many 50-seater flights already having been up gauged to 76-seaters, any additional growth at EWR likely will mean more flights, further stressing an already constrained facility.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documen ... rport-john
 
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RyanairGuru
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:26 am

It was a category 3 field and got downgraded to a category 2. That decision never made much sense, it is an operational nightmare on a sunny day with no wind, but now that it has been made I doubt they will reverse course so quickly.
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aaexecplat
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:15 pm

I fly in and out of EWR every week and have been doing so for 12 years. There is NO QUESTION that things have deteriorated dramatically since the facility was downgraded to Cat2. On a day where the weather isn't perfect, you will notice that EWR is running delays when neither LGA nor JFK are. On days when the weather is bad, you will routinely see EWR have much longer delays and ground stops than LGA and JFK. The change back to Cat 3 should have been made long ago.
 
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jfklganyc
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:24 pm

The downgrade was obviously a thumb in the eye to UA as they were sitting on slots and stagnating airport growth.

The amount of EWR delays has skyrocketed since the down grade.

If it isnt a clear day, landing south, there are 1.5 hour delays from the morning onward.

Clear day, landing north, you will have a delay.

That is just not sustainable.

I wonder how this effects the plan to scrap JFK slots after 31R is rebuilt.

Other than a few new turnoffs, nothing appreciable has been done to airfield capacity at either airport
 
MIflyer12
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:16 pm

RyanairGuru wrote:
It was a category 3 field and got downgraded to a category 2. That decision never made much sense, it is an operational nightmare on a sunny day with no wind, but now that it has been made I doubt they will reverse course so quickly.


Transtats data do show a significant decline in on-time arrivals from 2015+16 to 2017+18.

Domestic Flights, 2013-2018
% On Time 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018* Rank**
Departure 72% 71% 74% 75% 73% 74% 29
Arrival 70% 70% 75% 75% 68% 67% 30

Sorry about that pasting.
 
flyby519
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:23 pm

jfklganyc wrote:
The downgrade was obviously a thumb in the eye to UA as they were sitting on slots and stagnating airport growth.

The amount of EWR delays has skyrocketed since the down grade.

If it isnt a clear day, landing south, there are 1.5 hour delays from the morning onward.

Clear day, landing north, you will have a delay.

That is just not sustainable.

I wonder how this effects the plan to scrap JFK slots after 31R is rebuilt.

Other than a few new turnoffs, nothing appreciable has been done to airfield capacity at either airport


It is interesting because I am sure UA was upset at EWR losing slot controls, but I would imagine DL/B6 would be the opposite at JFK and actually push for the removal since they have great real estate and room to grow operations.
 
caljn
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:36 pm

It would be interesting to note how many people are stranded over night due to missed connections at EWR.
 
DCA-ROCguy
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:43 pm

IAD looks more attractive as a connecting hub all the time.

I've long wondered why slots were ever lifted at EWR. If the FAA wanted to clear up New York airspace and have it function well, it seems to me that slots are needed at all three airports--at about 10 percent fewer than they are now. For all carriers with more than three or four daily flights, that would mean they all proportionally lose 10 percent of their slots. Lots of upgauging. But NYC would no longer be a national delay roadblock.

Of course, there is no political will to do this, so NYC will remain congested. At least the current situation offers a good message from the FAA for UA, if jfklganyc is right: anticompetitive squatting will not be tolerated. Enjoy your delays.

Jim
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kordcj
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:26 pm

Interesting that ORD is on this list at all. The delays at the airport are down significantly when compared to before the newer runways came online.
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LotsaRunway
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:50 pm

caljn wrote:
It would be interesting to note how many people are stranded over night due to missed connections at EWR.

When your flight is on the first to delay/cancel list, getting stuck overnight happens quite frequently (with the caveat that if UA knows you are going to miss the connection before your flight departs for EWR, you have the option to reschedule the entire trip so you don't get stuck at EWR). Since larger aircraft are handled with priority, it minimizes the total number of those inconvenienced, but some flights/communities get hit over and over.

The very last time I booked UA over EWR, I was delayed 6 hours before cancelling overnight. I was told it would be two days before another seat could be found for me. The long delay killed any chances I had to try another airline that day. I decided to hit the rental car counter and take a long drive. Out of interest, I checked the flight they offered to reschedule me on and it ultimately got cancelled too. It's great that airlines prioritize to get the most passengers through, but if you rely on E145 connections at EWR, you feel very unimportant to the airline.
 
PSAatSAN4Ever
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:20 pm

In my opinion, every single airport in the world should be "slot-controlled". And by that, I mean, maximum capacity should be figured out, and scheduling should be based upon that.

For airports such as BFL, this would never be an issue. Even SAN isn't anywhere near its capacity, with the master plan designated 60 gates, for a maximum of 60 operations per hour.

But for an airport like EWR, where even when things are going perfectly they are always behind, one must face the reality that airlines will offer flight departure times that are attractive to the flyer and NOT based in reality. I seem to remember that United's last westbound departure bank scheduled 30+ flights to leave at 7 PM - something that couldn't have been done at DEN, much less EWR.

Those that can't face reality are going to find it won't be ignored. Either EWR gets slot-controlled or it will take the title of "Most Delayed Airport Ever".
 
SurfandSnow
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:58 pm

Presumably the objective of removing formal slot constraints at EWR was to increase competition at the airport - and within the Tri-State Area at large, since the region's 4 preferred commercial airports EWR, HPN, JFK and LGA all have significant barriers to entry/expansion. I would say this has been a huge success:

1) Smaller domestic players like AS, B6, G4, NK, SY and WN have all enjoyed rare opportunities expand their low fare services to and from the New York market via EWR

2) Foreign carriers without deep pockets like Level, Norwegian, PD (Porter Airlines) and WW (WOW air) have been able to offer Tri-State Area international travelers additional competition via EWR

3) Even premium long haul operators like EK and SQ have added new services to EWR since the slots went away.

I can't help but wonder if the recent UA hub changes will continue. Is there honestly a need to keep flying stuff like EWR-ALB/BGR/BTV/PVD/SYR? I have to imagine the vast majority of pax on those flights are connecting through EWR to places like CUN, LAS and MCO. Surely hubs like IAD and ORD are a better place for those connections to occur than EWR.

A lack of gate space seems to be a major issue for EWR these days. The new Terminal One can't come soon enough!
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nomorerjs
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:19 pm

kordcj wrote:
Interesting that ORD is on this list at all. The delays at the airport are down significantly when compared to before the newer runways came online.


Maybe because ORD was slot controlled in the past and has had delay problems as well. Most of this is changing due to the new runway configuration, even if you taxi for 15 minutes. Now if those gates would just be added!
 
DCA-ROCguy
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Re: EWR and Slot Controlled: Not a Question of "If" but "When"

Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:52 pm

SurfandSnow wrote:
Is there honestly a need to keep flying stuff like EWR-ALB/BGR/BTV/PVD/SYR? I have to imagine the vast majority of pax on those flights are connecting through EWR to places like CUN, LAS and MCO. Surely hubs like IAD and ORD are a better place for those connections to occur than EWR.


Absolutely, there is. Precisely the opposite is likely true: people going to those vacation spots are more likely to fly a low-fare carrier than UA. In addition to O & D to Northern NJ, which is its own business-heavy catchment area, EWR is the connecting airport for Europe flights that aren't offered at IAD.

If anything, smaller markets might be topped out at three larger-gauge RJ's and / or small mainline, to meet business schedules.

Jim
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