The United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the request by US-based airlines to extend the slot waiver at several airports on the east coast.
The FAA published its decision on August 9, 2023, shortly after Airlines for America (A4A), pleaded with the regulator to extend the slot waiver at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), as well as an operating timer waiver at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The waiver also applies to slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) for routes to New York area airports.
“This waiver will give carriers the ability to reduce operations during the remainder of the summer travel period and reduce corresponding delays which are likely to be exacerbated by the effects of ATC staffing shortfalls on significant NAS impact days,” noted the FAA.
A4A argued that since the FAA issued its original waiver in March 2023, the agency has not transferred the Newark airspace from the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility (N90) to the Philadelphia TRACON nor improved staffing levels at N90.
In its latest decision, the FAA recognized that “the current post-pandemic effects on N90 staffing meet the applicable waiver standards for the remainder of the summer 2023 scheduling season”.
As such, extending the slot waiver would be a decision that is “in the best interest of the flying public because it will minimize disruptions and provide greater predictability for airlines and consumers,” a letter, signed by Sharon Pinkerton, the senior vice president of Legislative and Regulatory Policy and Patricia Vercelli, the senior vice president of General Counsel and Secretary at A4A, read.
The FAA has allowed airlines to return 10% of their slots at JFK and LGA, as well as slots at DCA used on flights to JFK, LGA, and EWR. Furthermore, airlines can return 10% of their approved operating timings between September 16 and October 28, 2023, when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) summer season ends.
“Further, the FAA encourages carriers to up-gauge aircraft serving the affected airports to the extent possible to maintain passenger throughput and minimize the impact on consumers,” the regulator concluded.