The Port Authority today reiterated its opposition to the FAA’s continued plan to move forward with auctioning off airline slots at the New York metropolitan area airports despite near-unanimous opposition from elected officials, airlines, and passenger advocates, and a ruling from the independent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the FAA does not have the legal authority to do so.
The agency said it would seek an injunction from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit to block the FAA’s move.
The Port Authority believes that airlines entering auctions for the takeoff and landing slots they already own will lead only to higher costs that will be passed through to passengers in the form of increased ticket prices. The agency estimates those costs could rise by up to 12 percent. In addition to higher ticket prices, the auction policy will mean fewer flights to small communities at a time when these communities already are struggling in this economy. Specifically, a Port Authority study estimates that 25 small and medium-sized aviation markets would lose service to and from the New York metropolitan airports because auctions would force airlines to operate between large markets in order to make the slot purchase viable economically.
The agency has argued for a strategy that expands capacity by overhauling air traffic control technology, as well as improving customer service.
Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “We believe the right way to reduce delays is to replace a 1950s-era air traffic control system with investments in 21st century technology, expanding capacity and improving customer service. Our Flight Delay Task Force brought together all the interested stakeholders to develop effective solutions instead of pressing 11th-hour plans that, far from relieving congestion, would only hurt airline passengers and our local and national economies.”
Executive Director Chris Ward said, “While we want to work cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Transportation to address the problems of delays and congestion, this untested policy will do just the opposite. At a time when the economy is struggling, the Bush administration continues to push ahead with an idea that we’ve shown will increase ticket prices, reduce choices for passengers and provide no relief from delays or congestion. To protect our passengers, airports, and airline partners, we will take immediate action to stop this plan.”
The Port Authority praised the FAA’s commitment, also announced today, to dedicate $90 million if it is available in the future to expanding capacity at JFK. The agency noted that the FAA put the onus for delivering on this commitment to the next administration, and said it should be decoupled from slot auctions.
Director of Aviation William R. DeCota said, “The FAA should deliver on its commitment to expanding capacity now, and ground this auction scheme.”
The Port Authority has opposed the administration’s plan from the moment it was announced. It has filed a Notice of Proposed Action that would ban auction-acquired flights from operating at the agency’s airports; successfully joined a suit against the administration that would invalidate the auction plan, and garnered widespread support in its opposition, including:
- Key members of both houses of Congress, and the chairs and ranking members of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee;
- The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which concluded in a legal opinion sought by members of Congress “that the FAA may not auction slots under its property disposition authority, user fee authority, or any other authority.”;
- New York Governor David A. Paterson;
- New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine;
- The Air Transport Association;
- Airports Council International—North America;
- The New York Aviation Management Association;
- The International Air Transport Association;
- The Regional Airline Association;
- The Business Travelers Coalition;
- The New York Chapter of the Business Travel Association;
- and the Standing Committee on Aviation for the American Association for State Highway and Transportation Officials;
The Port Authority also convened in 2007 its Flight Delay Task Force, which brought together a broad spectrum of stakeholders to address the issue of growing delays and congestion. The task force delivered more than 100 recommendations including 77 technical improvements that would provide real relief for travelers, and the agency has called upon the administration to implement the recommendations quickly.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Pasquale DiFulco, 212 435-7777
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.