Airlines appreciated the extra space

Terminal four at JFK airport in New York City

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Before Thanksgiving, President Bush offered airlines extra room in the skies. He gave them access to military airspace, so more planes could take off and land hopefully reducing holiday delays. Apparently the airlines were so happy with this, they want more. Here's Alisa Roth.


Alisa Roth: More than 2,600 flights took off or landed late on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That's about 20 percent more than on the same day last year.

Letting commercial planes into military airspace did mean planes could fly more direct routes:

Darryl Jenkins: But you still have an enormous number of delayed flights, which shows us that we're just a long ways from getting a handle on the air traffic system.

Airline consultant Darryl Jenkins says the direct routes meant airlines saved money on jet fuel. But airplanes still had to line up to take off and land.

Jenkins: As long as you have inadequate runway space, you will continue to have delays in this system. Even if we had the most modern air traffic system in the world.

But airlines say holiday traffic would have been much worse without the extra airspace. They'd like to be able to use the restricted air during heavy travel times or periods of "extreme delays."

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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