DOT: RJs could cause congestion

Airport congestion could return in force this summer, and if it does, one of the contributing factors will be an increase in regional jet usage, the Transportation Department inspector generals office said in a June 30 report.

Network carriers continue to shift their domestic service to regional jets, and the number of domestic scheduled flights by regional jets has more than doubled since July 2000. That compares to a 16% decline in large jet flights.

Unlike their turboprop-driven predecessors, regional jets occupy the same airspace and require access to the same runways as larger jet aircraft, the IGs office said in its periodic report on aviation industry performance.

The IGs office said other contributing factors include traffic generated by low-cost, low-fare carriers increasing or starting service at large hub airports; US Airways and Delta shifting flights to their remaining hubs after de-hubbing Pittsburgh and Dallas/Fort Worth, respectively; and increases in traffic overall.

The IG said the airports most at risk for delay problems this summer are Philadelphia, LaGuardia, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale.

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