Release #07.055
October 23, 2007

ALPA: Cutting Flights at JFK No Solution
Pilots want seat at the table to develop efficient airspace management

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) is calling on the Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive solution to combat delays at JFK Airport in New York City. ALPA is also urging the DOT to invite pilots to any discussions on solving air traffic congestion anywhere in the U.S.

“The DOT’s recent efforts designed to trim schedules at peak demand periods for JFK is misdirected,” says ALPA President Capt. John Prater. “Reducing flights ignores the critical problems of traffic saturation and lack of commitment by the Administration to support the modernization of our National Airspace System. Furthermore, the Administration’s call for congestion pricing offers even less hope. It will raise airfares, hurt U.S. airlines harder than foreign carriers, and do little to relieve congestion.”

Poorly managed airspace, inadequate controller staffing, and a stubborn reliance on 50-year old technology contribute to an inflexible system that seizes up at the first sign of less than ideal weather. ALPA strongly supports the use of Area Navigation (RNAV) routes (which provides more flexible route structure), redesigned New York airspace, and adequate air traffic controller staffing.

“The DOT is convening a meeting of airlines and other interested parties today and tomorrow to discuss limiting flights in and out of JFK,” says Prater. “ALPA pilots are shut out of meetings now, but we stand ready to attend and contribute our 76 years of experience actually flying in and out of New York.”

“The delays imposed by air traffic control are often the result of communication overload rather than aircraft overload,” Capt. Larry Newman, chairman of ALPA’s Air Traffic Services Group adds. “The current system of aircraft vectoring is work-intensive for controllers. They can safely communicate with just a handful of aircraft at a time on each frequency.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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ALPA Contact: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, 703-481-4440