NEW YORK: Delta Air Lines Inc and United Airlines Holdings Inc are offering to trim flights by as much as 10% at some of the country’s busiest airports this summer to ease congestion and delays – but only in return for a promise from federal regulators that they can get them back.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reached out to airlines with multiple slots at airports in greater New York City and Washington, DC and asked them to drop flights in exchange for flying larger aircraft, the agency said.
The arrangement extends from May 15 through September 15, it said in a press release.
Delta Air and United Airlines said they may reduce flight service from John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports in the New York City vicinity as well as Washington’s Reagan National Airport, according to letters dated this week and released by the FAA.
“Absent increased flexibility, there exists a high probability congestion and delay” will plague the New York region, the FAA said in its order.
American Airlines Group Inc wrote to the FAA that it is still evaluating the FAA plan, but agreed it would “improve airspace conditions and the customer experience in the broader New York region.”
Delta Air is reviewing its network and can’t comment on how its flight schedule will be affected ahead of an April 30 deadline to identify which slots and operating times it may waive, a spokesman said.
United Airlines declined to comment beyond a letter to the FAA acknowledging it would take part in the plan.
American Airlines didn’t immediately comment.
The unusual move is an attempt to get ahead of the kind of post-pandemic problems that plagued the airline industry in the past year, particularly at airports hit by surging flight numbers and air traffic controller shortages. — Bloomberg