A United Airlines at LaGuardia International Airport in New York.
Adam Jefferies | CNBC
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday announced measures to try to avoid a repeat of disruptions at airports serving New York City and Washington DC this summer as they deal with a shortage of air traffic controllers at a key facility in the area has to fight.
The agency said it will reduce flight requirements for airline takeoff and landing rights to avoid congestion. Airlines have until April 30 to submit requests to give up take-off and landing slots.
The waiver would last from May 15 to September 15.
Airline executives have repeatedly complained about air traffic control deficiencies, which have contributed to flight disruptions as air travel bounced back from pandemic lows in recent years. Airlines also reduced their flight schedules last summer to avoid delays as they deal with their own staffing issues and other pressures.
The FAA said it expects increased delays this summer in the New York City area compared to last year, forecasting a 45% increase in delays on 7% growth in operations.
United Airlines said it will seek a waiver for specific use of takeoff and landing contingents at the three largest New York-area airports and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. In a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen on Wednesday, United said it would deploy aircraft with more seats to compensate for the reduced number of flights and offer alternative flights to affected customers.
Delta Airlines welcomed the FAA’s action.
“Delta is reviewing our network to ensure the best customer experience throughout the summer travel season, and we are committed to working with the FAA on measures to ensure the safety and efficiency of operations at NY/NJ airports,” the airline said in an explanation .
Later this month, the FAA will hold a summit with airlines about other ways it can alleviate disruption in the region. A similar event took place in Florida last year when passengers faced delays attributed to bad weather, high demand and congestion due to issues like space launches and military exercises.