Will JFK Suck in Summer 2008?

I’ve supported the FAA stepping in to cut delays at JFK for awhile now, and it sounds like it’s finally going to happen. They convened a meeting of the big airlines at the airport this week to try to come to a voluntary agreement about reducing schedules. Of course, nobody is happy with the outcome.

07_10_25 jfksuxThe FAA introduced some guidelines for the talks saying that at its peak, they want the airport to have no more than 81 departures scheduled per hour. Right now, they’re averaging around 90 at the peak, but during the summer it was higher than that. So, we have someone coming in and taking charge finally. You know that means that nobody is happy.

The airlines and the Port Authority (which runs JFK) are the most unhappy. Led by the Air Transport Association (ATA), the airlines are saying that “Slashing operations at JFK alone will not solve the congestion problem.” Um, actually, yes it will. But their follow-up point is a valid one.

They say that this will just deny access to NYC even though passengers want it. The airlines aren’t going to be able to meet demand, so the FAA should make operational changes to allow more planes in instead of just cutting them off.

As far as I’m concerned, if the FAA can make changes to increase capacity that will take effect by this summer, they should do it and I’m onboard. But I’m skeptical that anything can happen that quickly.

The Port Authority’s proposal has a lot of capital improvements in it and those won’t happen quickly. If they have any quick hits, I’d hope the FAA would listen very closely. Otherwise, for next summer, the airlines will just have to suck it up and deal with the slot restrictions. It’s not ideal at all, but it’s a lot better than being stuck on a taxiway for 6 hours.

(By the way, the t-shirt image I’m showing actually says “Fly SUX” and is the latest marketing tool from the Sioux City airport. Yup, they have finally decided to embrace their airport code. You can buy your own shirt here.)

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