Waiting. . . and waiting. . . for takeoff

Planes queue to take off at Heathrow airport in London.

TEXT OF STORYSCOTT JAGOW: If you like to sit around in airports, boy, you're in for a lot of fun this summer. Experts predict more travel delays than ever before. Although, today, the FAA unveils a plan that could make things better. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.

JANET BABIN: The pilot says you're sitting on the tarmac because of a mechanical issue. And that could be true, but according to the FAA, 70 percent of flight delays are caused by weather. And a lot of that weather happens in summer. Lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes...

Those delays cost $10 billion in lost time each year. The FAA is announcing a new strategy to reduce them.

Airline analyst Robert Mann says it could involve a switch from older radar to more efficient satellite air traffic control. Or it could be an updated shared information system that allows for changes in flight schedules.

Either way, he says the FAA can't control the root cause of flight delays.

ROBERT MANN: It's not something you can solve via different navigation techniques. It is really a question of there being too many flights scheduled in very limited airspace and runway capacity.

In other words, there's only so much pavement. Mann says flights without a place to land will be delayed.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.


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