Web Hosting

Delta Pilot Union Chief Says Slot Auctions Ill-Conceived

Posted in Cockpit Crew News, Delta AirNo comments

The union head for Delta Air Lines Inc.’s pilots condemned Thursday the federal government’s plan to seize takeoff and landing times from Delta and other domestic carriers as part of a plan to relieve congestion at New York City airports.

Lee Moak, the chairman of the Delta unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, called the plan by the Federal Aviation Administration poorly conceived and unfair to domestic carriers who stand to lose up to 10 percent of their takeoff and landing slots over the next five years at Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

Federal officials plan to confiscate up to 10 percent of slots held by major domestic carriers, such as Atlanta-based Delta (NYSE: DAL), and auction them off Jan. 12 to the highest bidders.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA say the move will alleviate air congestion in the Big Apple, by effectively instituting market-driven pricing. Basically, the airlines will pay more to fly during peak times and to fly smaller planes.

“Our plan will reduce congestion, keep air fares competitive and increase travel options in the New York aviation market,” DOT spokeswoman Sarah Echols said. “Our proposal introduces a limited number of auctions while also protecting the vast majority of flights by incumbent carriers. This balanced approach will ensure robust competition and high quality service while continuing to provide strong incentives for carriers to invest in existing operations at these capacity constrained airports.”

But the airlines say the government is overstepping its bounds. The airlines point out that the General Accounting Office has issued a ruling stating that the FAA lacks the authority to confiscate the slots.

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operate the affected airports, have filed suit to halt the auctions.

Moak said in light of the economy and with carriers cutting their capacity, “the actions of the FAA are clearly not in best interests of passengers, employees and the airlines.”

The airlines say the auctions could cost small cities air service and front line airline employees—such as pilots, flight attendants and gate agents—their jobs.

Slots will only be confiscated from domestic carriers that meet a certain threshold. Foreign carriers can’t have their slots taken away, even if they buy more slots than their domestic rivals.

Facilities, personnel and aircraft schedules are already in place for some of the slots that could be affected. Tickets for many of the flights already scheduled have been sold, which could lead to cancellations.

“The bottom line is this is wholly inappropriate in light of the economy,” said Moak, who attended an FAA demonstration of the auction process Thursday long with 30 other Delta pilots. “We’re going to do everything we can do as we go forward to address this activity.”

Airline officials say improved scheduling and upgrades to next generation air traffic control technology can solve the congestion problem.

The airlines are hopeful that a legislative remedy might occur prior to the auctions.

Leave a comment

Vous must be registred to post comments.

Hosted By Vodien Internet Solutions