American Airlines said that it will join other major carriers in temporarily cutting some New York City area flights this summer after the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily relaxed some minimum flight requirements.American is reducing the frequency of flights between LaGuardia Airport and Dallas, Miami, Kansas City and St Louis as well as the Newark Liberty International Airport-Chicago route.
Last month, the FAA agreed to requests of Delta Air Lines and United Airlines to temporarily return up to 10 per cent of slots and flight timings at congested New York LaGuardia and John F Kennedy International Airport, Newark and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, citing air traffic controller shortages. The carriers agreed to cuts on the condition they not be backfilled.
Air travellers could face another rough summer as carriers struggle to meet burgeoning flight demands after the pandemic. JetBlue Airways said after the FAA announcement it “began reviewing options for reducing our flight schedule at JFK and LaGuardia airports to help ease constraints on the system.”
The airline added “it is disappointing to reduce flights for customers as they plan their summer holidays and as New York City works to rebound from the pandemic.” The FAA said it will give airlines “the ability to reduce operations during the peak summer travel period, which are likely to be exacerbated by the effects of Air Traffic Controller staffing shortfalls.” Airlines can lose slots at congested airports if they do not use them at least 80 per cent of the time.
The FAA expects airlines to minimise impacts on passengers, including operating larger aircraft. Airlines have already cut about 10 per cent of scheduled flights this spring to address performance issues, said trade group Airlines for America.
The FAA said staffing at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control remain below targets. Last summer air traffic control staffing was a factor in delays of 41,498 flights from New York airports.
The agency said it will reassign about 100 square miles of Newark airspace to the Philadelphia Terminal Radar Approach Control later this year to address staffing issues.