The Federal Aviation Administration wisely
decided to retain an hourly cap on operations at New Yorks
LaGuardia Airport, limiting the airlines to 75 operations per hour
for most of the day.
Better yet, the FAA
is putting the airlines on notice that it expects them to make
efficient use of those 75 take-offs and landings and to refrain
from the frivolous use of itty-bitty airplanes. To that end, it
proposes to start measuring the airlines average aircraft size at
LaGuardia and penalize carriers that dont measure up.
According to the
FAA, a fair share of the airports current delay problems stem from
an increased use of regional jets.
This would be
acceptable if the smaller aircraft were being used to support
travel to and from small communities, but the FAA said too many of
these aircraft are being used on routes to big towns and airline
hubs like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Raleigh, N.C.
We dont believe the
government has any business telling airline managements where to
fly or what kind of airplane to use, but the FAA has a mandate to
promote the safe and efficient use of the nations airspace, and
this is an efficiency issue.
impossibility of adding runways to hemmed-in airports such as
LaGuardia, how can the government encourage airlines to use bigger
aircraft in order to accommodate more travelers?
One obvious answer
is to look for market mechanisms that would encourage this kind of
efficiency, such as a congestion pricing scheme under which
airlines would pay access fees at an airport, pegged to the level
The FAA said it
would seek congressional authority to bring about such a scenario
and experiment with other options, such as slot auctions. But in
the meantime, requiring carriers to increase the average size of
aircraft at LaGuardia seems like a fair interim step.
Our biggest gripe
about the proposal is that it wouldnt start until 2009. Why
Summer is ending, but theres always a sense
of new beginnings at this time of year
-- kids are back in school and people
are back from vacations. Everybody is getting down to
However, this week
is sandwiched between the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
and the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a
situation that could temper ones optimism. Fresh from grim
reminders of how much remains undone in New Orleans and on the Gulf
Coast, were about to see and hear many reminders of the events of
9/11 along with much analysis and commentary.
If you need some
reminders that the solemn mood should be temporary, here are some
large and small signs that new beginnings are everywhere: Cendants
travel businesses are newly independent companies; Amtrak has a new
president; the Southwest Airlines Vacation brand has a new
destination, Hawaii; Delta will soon be in the New York-London
market; America West and US Airways are finally merging their
inventory codes, as a precursor to using a common reservations
system; numerous travel companies from Intrawest to Brendan
Vacations are getting new owners; Windstar is refurbishing its
fleet; and new hotel concepts are springing up everywhere.
The next season on
our calendar may be fall, but in the travel business, signs of
renewal are all around us.