U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters Issues Recommendations to Help Avoid Future Abrupt Aircraft Groundings

Secretary Peters added that the FAA and airlines need to review and improve procedures for understanding the process, timing and criteria for requesting and approving alternative solutions for safety directives, known as Alternate Means of Compliance.

Secretary Peters announced that the Department of Transportation will invest $2 million for a new study to look at ways to add transit connections to New York’s Stewart Airport, which is located approximately 90 miles north of Manhattan. She noted that the facility has the kind of runways and facilities that could take pressure off the region’s busier airports as long as travelers can easily get there.

The Secretary said these two new measures build on previous steps by the Department to cap JFK and LaGuardia Airports, to improve airspace capacity and to better manage the region’s airspace under a single aviation czar. But she cautions that while “all these measures are significant, no one should consider them sufficient.”

She noted that capping the region’s airport capacity without providing new ways to attract competition “would likely deliver fewer delays, but would certainly bring stagnant service, limited consumer choices and increased fares.” As a result she said the Department was proposing new measures to make available a limited number of take off and landing opportunities, know as slots, for auction at JFK and Newark Airports.

“In order to ensure that airport caps do not become an economic drain on the region and the rest of the country, we need a way to keep aviation competition alive in the free market capital of the world,” Secretary Peters said. “This new proposal will do much to make flying to New York attractive.”

Under the proposal, all airlines operating at Newark and JFK would be given up to 20 slots a day for the 10-year life of the rule. The proposal offers two options for JFK. Under the first, 10 percent of the airline’s slots above the 20-slot baseline would be made available via an auction. The revenue from those auctions would then be invested in congestion and capacity improvements in the region.

Under the second option for JFK, the airlines would auction 20 percent of slots above the 20-slot baseline and keep all of the proceeds. The Secretary noted that, depending on the option, between 91 and 179 slots would be affected out of 1,245 total slots at the airport.

The proposal also calls for auctioning 10 percent of slots at Newark Airport above the baseline annually for the first five years of the rule. As a result, only 96 slots out of a total of 1,219 slots at the airport would be auctioned over the 10-year span of the proposal.

The Secretary noted that airlines operating at the two airports “would receive a 10-year interest in some of the world’s most valuable aviation assets, free of charge, free of question and free of hassle.” She added that other airlines would get a chance to compete in an attractive aviation market, but to do so they would have to make investments that benefit every existing carrier.

She said the Department was making the proposal because economists estimate that caps at airports without competition can increase fares for passengers between 11 to 15 percent over similar flights at other airports. Meanwhile economists estimate that fares drop by over 30 percent when new airlines enter a market.

“Simply put, competition drives down fares,” Secretary Peters said. She added that the Department will accept comments on the new proposal for the next 60 days, which would be thoroughly reviewed and analyzed before any final rule is issued.

For more information about the Secretary’s announcements, please visit A href="http://www.dot.gov/affairs/aviation080516/index.htm">www.dot.gov/affairs/aviation080516/index.htm

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