FAA Loosens Ski-country Slot Machine

 - February 8, 2007, 10:31 AM

The FAA plans to evaluate a new and less restrictive special traffic management program (STMP) this year to manage operations at Colorado ski-country airports, including Aspen-Pitkin, Eagle-Vail, Montrose, Garfield-Rifle and Telluride. Under the revamped program, slot reservations can be made up to 72 hours in advance of arrival; reservations must be reconfirmed at least eight but not more than 24 hours in advance; days covered by the program will be reduced from 142 to 57; and Grand Junction, Colo., will be deleted from the program. Controversy has accompanied the ski-country STMPs for several years and, by the FAA's own accounting, many people were making reservations and not using them. The new mandatory dates are December 14 to January 4; February 16 to 21; March 15 to April 4; and June 29 to July 6. The FAA said a new computer-generated confirmation code will make it difficult, if not impossible, for aircraft operators to substitute different aircraft or swap reservations.