FAA encourages airlines to cut New York schedules this summer

Because of a shortage of air traffic controllers, the FAA this summer will allow airlines to surrender 10% of their landing and departure slots at capacity-restricted Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports without being subject to losing access to those slots in future years. 

The moratorium will be in effect May 15 to Sept. 15.

In a notice published March 22, the FAA said that air traffic control staffing at New York-area airports is 54% below the agency’s target. Meanwhile, operations at those airports is expected to be up 7% from last summer. That could mean even more pain for travelers this summer if airlines don’t trim their schedules. 

The FAA hopes easing slot usage requirements in the New York area will encourage airlines to trim schedules. United reduced its Newark schedule last summer.

“The staffing shortfalls limit the FAA’s ability to provide expeditious services to aircraft operators and their passengers that traverse this airspace,” the agency said. 

From May through September of 2022, there were a combined 41,500 delayed operations at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK, with those delays rippling throughout the networks of U.S. carriers. Based upon current airline schedules, the FAA expects delays to increase by 45% this summer. 

Under standard rules, airlines must use each of their slots at JFK and LaGuardia 80% of the time or lose those valuable landing rights. Rules are similar at Newark. 

This year, however, carriers will be allowed to keep 10% of their slots dormant over the summer while retaining those rights for next year, provided that they inform the FAA of such an intent by April 30. 

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In addition, the FAA will grant slot usage relief to airlines at capacity-constrained Reagan Washington National Airport for reductions they make to service to the New York area. The agency encouraged airlines to use those Washington National slots for service to other cities. 

However, should airlines not do that, they’ll still retain those slots for the future, though the FAA will offer the slots to other airlines on a one-off basis this summer.

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