Gridlock over how to end flight gridlock

JFK is at the center of the gridlock debate

Airlines seek better air-traffic control

From the view of the airlines and the airport authority, the FAA still isn't moving aggressively enough to improve air-traffic control. Talk of imposing caps, they say, will turn back the clock and undermine New York's economy.

"We are opposed to artificial restraints on travel and taxes on travel," says James May, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association, which represents the major carriers. "The constraints they're attempting to put on JFK are reminiscent of traffic levels that were accomplished in 1969. We don't need to look back; we need to look forward."

The FAA's Turmail says operational improvements are "a must and already under way." But he's just as adamant that the airlines must make some changes. "We have to figure out what changes the airlines can make and what the Port Authority can do to avoid these delays in the future," he says.

Advocates for passengers say both sides can do better. "There's some definite denial ... among airlines about how bad the problem is," says Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group for business travelers. "On the other hand, the FAA just seems like it wants to experiment in New York with this congestion pricing and they're not hearing the objections."

Still, there are some hopeful signs for the weary, oft-delayed traveler, says Mr. Mitchell. At least every body's talking about a finding a solution and, in the end, they just might, he says.

(c) Copyright 2007. The Christian Science Monitor

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