NY/NJ slot auction draws industry ire

The US Department of Transport’s decision to auction slots at New Yorkarea airports to ease congestion has been strongly opposed by the airport authority, the carriers as well as IATA, as it could affect airlines operating passenger services and bellyhold cargo. The US-based Air Transport Association and IATA followed through on their promise to fight […]


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The US Department of Transport’s decision to auction slots at New Yorkarea airports to ease congestion has been strongly opposed by the airport authority, the carriers as well as IATA, as it could affect airlines operating passenger services and bellyhold cargo.

The US-based Air Transport Association and IATA followed through on their promise to fight the US Department of Transportation’s final rule on slot auctions and flight caps at New York JFK, LaGuardia and Newark.

The ATA sued FAA in US federal court to invalidate the rules and is seeking a stay on the auctions scheduled to begin in January. It said the suit “challenges FAA’s claim that slots are agency property that can be leased or otherwise disposed of under FAA’s general property management authority.” In its filing ATA said, “the confi scation and auctioning of slots as provided for in the rule exceed the FAA’s statutory authority and violate a number of other statutory and constitutional prohibitions and restrictions, including an explicit ban on spending appropriated funds to finalise or implement a regulation that imposes new aviation user fees.”

IATA fi led its petition for review with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, said: “The decision is incredibly disappointing. Rather than addressing the root-causes of congestion at New York’s airports, the Bush Administration is spending its last days in office single-mindedly pursuing an alleged free-market experiment at some of the globe’s most important aviation gateways.

“The Department of Transportation (DOT) is out of touch with reality. Substantially raising airline costs with an illegal scheme in the middle of a perfect storm of high oil prices and falling demand makes no sense. Consumers, airlines, airports and local communities all stand to lose from this decision.”

And the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is opposed to anything that seeks to cap slots at its airports. “We think there are better ways to deal with congestion and have submitted a number of suggestions,” a spokesman for the authority said.

While of some importance to users of bellyhold cargo, the slot debate has little bearing on international freighter activities, which typically occur outside the peak operating hours. If anything, there are some freighter slots up for grabs, and more will become available at the end of the year, when Japan Airlines pulls its B747 freighters out of the New York market.



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