Airlines in a jam over sky traffic

Jeremy Hobson Oct 11, 2007


Lisa Napoli: Today, the airlines report next spring and summer’s flight schedules to the FAA. Now, everyone wants to clear up the congestion in the skies. But Jeremy Hobson says agreeing on how to do that is another thing.

Jeremy Hobson: About 30 percent of the nation’s flights go through the New York Metro Area. And airline consultant Bob Mann says things are so bad right now:

Bob Mann: There is physically no possibility that the amount of scheduled flights, both take-offs and landings, could possibly be handled by the facility.

So the FAA wants the airlines to fix that problem, possibly by cutting flights.

But here’s the dilemma: Airlines don’t want to reduce take-offs and landings, because they fear their competitors would fill the gap. And in most cases, airlines can’t confer on schedules due to anti-trust rules.

Still, Brian Turmail at the Department of Transportation says better to let the airlines sort out the problems themselves.

Brian Turmail: We owe it to travelers to find a more effective solution that doesn’t require the government to come in and arbitrarily cut the schedules of airlines serving a particular airport.

He says if the government were to take a greater role in scheduling, ticket prices would likely go up.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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