WASHINGTON -- American and United airlines will both reduce the
number of flights they schedule out of Chicago's O'Hare
International Airport during peak hours from March 4 to Sept. 1 in
response to action taken by the Federal Aviation Association to
improve congested conditions at the airport.
The FAA, after negotiating separately with the carriers, issued
an order that requires them to reduce their number of peak flights
for by 5% each. That translates into 62 fewer flights on O'Hare's
runways from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. during that span.
The order, the first of its kind to reduce airport congestion,
came as O'Hare recently experienced record-breaking delays.
"On Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, nearly 39% of O'Hare's arrivals were
delayed with an average delay of 492 [flights] per day at an
average of one hour per aircraft," said FAA administrator Marion
Blakey during a press conference at DOT headquarters Jan. 21.
The delays were the "most the FAA has ever recorded," she said.
And the delays at O'Hare rippled through the system, causing "more
than a 10% increase in the average flight delay at the nation's
largest 35 airports," added DOT secretary Norman Mineta.
The FAA said it would take further steps if congested conditions
persist at O'Hare.
American already "depeaked" its hubs at O'Hare [the FAA order
means American will eliminate an additional 27 flights per day
during those seven high-traffic hours] and Dallas/Fort Worth,
spreading flights more evenly throughout the day so employees
aren't sitting idle between flight clusters.
Now that concept, which adds productivity at the tradeoff of
slightly longer connecting times, will be implemented at American's
hub in Miami.
American said Wednesday it will increase the number of daily
flight "banks," or clusters, from seven to 13, effective May 1.
That also should allow for more flights in and out of Miami using
fewer aircraft, another contributor to lower costs, the airline
In Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth, depeaking has resulted in a 5%
to 8% improvement in the number of flight departures per employee,
American president and CEO Gerard Arpey said.
To contact reporters Michael Milligan and Andrew Compart,
send e-mail to [email protected] or [email protected].