Court Halts New York Slot Auction

 - December 9, 2008, 4:47 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia yesterday granted a petition by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to order a stay of the FAA’s plans to auction takeoff and landing slots at Newark Liberty International Airport and New York JFK and La Guardia Airports. The ruling will at least delay the FAA’s plans to start gradually reallocating 10 percent of the slots airlines now operate free of charge until the Obama Administration takes office. The agency had scheduled the first auction for January 12. Championed by the Bush Administration’s DOT as a cost effective, competitive way to alleviate congestion over New York’s busy airspace, the plan drew condemnation from the airlines and Congressional leaders, as well as an opinion by the Government Accountability Office that the department did not carry the legal authority to move forward with such a plan. Predictably, the news of the stay elicited applause from a number of stakeholders.

“RAA’s member airlines–and perhaps more importantly, the 75 percent of U.S. communities that rely on regional airlines exclusively for their scheduled airline service–greatly appreciate today’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily halting the Bush Administration’s scheme to auction off access to New York’s Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Airports,” said Regional Airline Association president Roger Cohen. “Last week we called the DOT auction ‘eBay on psychedelics,’ and stretching that metaphor, the court’s sound judgment saved the traveling public from a ‘real bad trip.’”

Added Airports Council International-North America president Greg Principato, “Airport proprietors are in the best position to manage the use of the facilities they plan, design, fund, build and currently operate. Slot auctions mandated by the federal government would not have reduced delays or improved efficiency, competition or passenger service.”