Due to a personnel deficit, the Federal Aviation Administration is permitting airlines to reduce service from airports in the New York and Washington, D.C., area in advance of the busy summer season. Several carriers are already doing this.
The FAA asked carriers to “take actions minimizing impacts on passengers” in a notice it released last month that gave airlines latitude about airport slots at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Airlines have till April 30 to make their decision regarding slot reductions.
According to the FAA, two out of every ten air traffic controller positions nationwide are unfilled, CBS News New York reported.
Although the FAA continues to reduce the backlog in air traffic controller training at many FAA air traffic facilities, staffing levels at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (N90) continue to be below targets, the administration wrote in a statement. “The FAA is taking several steps to keep air travel to and from New York City this summer safe and smooth, even as we see strong domestic demand and a return of pre-pandemic international traffic,” the statement continued.
A representative for United Airlines said the airline will reduce the number of flights from all of the affected airports (United no longer operates out of JFK) but stressed that overseas flights would not be impacted.
“We’ve lowered some frequencies to our daily schedules at Newark, LaGuardia, and Washington Reagan in support of the FAA’s efforts to reduce aviation traffic in the New York City area this summer. To minimize the impact on our clients’ travel plans, we frequently substitute the frequencies with larger planes, the representative said in a statement made available to T+L. Less than 2% of our passengers at these airports will be impacted by these modest cutbacks, but the majority of them will still arrive at their destinations within two hours of their scheduled arrival time.
In keeping with the FAA’s slot waiver, an American Airlines representative informed T+L that the airline would “temporarily reduce frequencies on select routes from LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport this summer.”
A representative for Delta Air Lines, on the other hand, told T+L that the airline “commends the FAA for recognizing shared challenges that exist between the FAA, airports, and airlines at New York and New Jersey airports, and for implementing a coordinated plan to improve operational reliability at these airports,” but added that the company was “reviewing our network to ensure the best customer experience throughout the summer travel season.”
Upon having a finalized strategy, JetBlue told T+L that the airline has “begun reviewing options for reducing our flight schedule at JFK and LaGuardia airports” and would offer more information thereafter.
An FAA spokesperson said: “We are pleased the leadership team at the FAA is proactively working to get ahead of this and is being transparent about the staffing shortages. While it is disappointing to reduce flights for customers as they plan their summer vacations and as New York City works to recover from the pandemic.
Beginning on June 5th, Delta will stop flying to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and State College, Pennsylvania, in addition to New York.
Source: Travel + Leisure