|Planes at New Jersey's Newark International Airport. Flight delays often begin in the congested New York area then spread across the nation. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press/ File 2007)|
N.Y. airports face caps in bid to ease flight delays
HERNDON, Va. - Fewer flights will go in and out of New York City airports at the busiest times to try to ease chronic nationwide air travel delays, the government said yesterday.
To help holiday travelers, military airspace will be opened to commercial traffic on the east and west coasts, the government said.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters made the announcement after months of closed-door wrangling with the airlines over how to curb air traffic around New York City's three major airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey.
Delays often begin in the congested New York area then spread across the nation.
"I had hoped to be able to avoid caps but the truth is for the short term, for the next few years this is the solution that will provide some relief for travelers," Peters said.
Under new rules that take effect in March, JFK will only be allowed 82 or 83 flights per hour at peak times, down significantly from the 90 to 100 that had been scheduled this past summer.
Similar caps will go into effect at Newark, but the exact number has yet to be determined. LaGuardia already has limits on flights.
The caps were criticized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region's three major airports.
Port Authority executive director Anthony Shorris said the FAA was "simply wrong" about the capacity at JFK, which he said is capable of handling up to 100 flights per hour. Limiting the number of flights at popular travel times may lead to higher ticket prices, or force some people to travel at inconvenient times, Shorris said.
The government's move means airlines will have to slash the number of flights they schedule at JFK during peak hours.