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, 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