The United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has continued to extend the slot waiver for New York airports, as well as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), in response to continuous air traffic control (ATC) staffing shortages.
The FAA announced that the slot waivers will be extended through October 27, 2024, marking the end of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) summer season, due to an insufficient number of air traffic controllers at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (N90) area.
“The agency continues to expect that airlines will operate larger aircraft to transport more passengers, have sufficient ground crews to service the larger aircraft and make sure passengers are fully informed about any possible disruptions,” the FAA said in a statement.
The extended slot waiver has continued to affect New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and flights between the Big Apple and DCA. The FAA also extended the waiver for Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), which uses operating timings rather than slots.
In a filing, the regulator said that the relief will allow airlines to reduce operations during the upcoming IATA winter 2023/2024 and summer 2024 seasons, which will allow carriers to better align their planned and actual flight schedules. As a result, the relief will “help prevent unnecessary delays, will help optimize the efficient use of the airports’ resources, and will help deliver passengers to their destinations more reliably and on time”.
“The airspace complexity resulting from the close proximity of the major commercial airports serving the New York City region is a significant contributing factor to delays at JFK, LGA, and EWR,” the FAA said in the filing, adding that staffing shortages at the N90 facility have prevented efficient management of the airspace within the region.
This is the third slot waiver that the regulator has provided to airlines. In March 2023, the FAA initially allowed airlines to relieve their slots/operating timings at the four airports until September 15, 2023.
However, in early August 2023, seeing that the situation had not improved, Airlines for America (A4A), a trade association, requested that the FAA extend the initial waiver until the end of October 2023. In response, the administration extended the waiver, citing the same staffing shortages at the N90 facility.
“The FAA has made it a top priority to address these capacity constraints, including by dedicating significant resources to training a new air traffic controller workforce, and these efforts remain ongoing,” the regulator concluded following the latest extension in September 2023.