FAA extends slot waivers at New York-area airports

The FAA will continue to allow airlines to surrender 10% of their landing and departure slots at capacity-restricted Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and JFK airports through Oct. 28.

Under the waiver, which had been set to expire on Sept. 15, airlines won’t be subject to lose those unused slots in future years. 

“The agency continues to expect that airlines will operate larger aircraft to transport more passengers and make sure passengers are fully informed about any possible disruptions,” reads an FAA announcement.

The slot usage relief also applies to airlines at capacity-constrained Washington Reagan National for reductions they make to service to the New York area. Its ending date coincides with the official last date of IATA’s summer travel season. 

The agency’s decision came just two days after the trade group Airlines for America sent a letter to the FAA requesting the slot relief extension. Typically, 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. 

Air traffic controller shortage

The FAA decided to relax those rules this summer due to an ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers in the New York area, where it is only 54% staffed. 

Even with that change, carriers have struggled operationally this summer in the Northeast, including a major Newark meltdown by United in late June and a spate of weather-driven disruptions this past weekend. Airlines have cited controller shortages as a contributing factor to those difficulties. 

“Granting relief for the rest of the summer season is in the best interest of the flying public because it will minimize disruptions and provide greater predictability for airlines and consumers,” A4A said in its Monday letter. 

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