Release #07.064
November 15, 2007

Pilots Team up with Airlines to Tackle New York’s Congested Airspace Solutions
Groups Urge the Department of Transportation to Endorse Market-Tested Scheduling Approach

WASHINGTON – The heads of the trade group representing most of the nation’s airlines and the union representing most airline pilots in the U.S. sent a joint letter to the Secretary of Transportation yesterday stating that proposed solutions to congestion at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport are overly drastic and will harm the airport, airlines serving it, and its passengers.

The letter, signed by Capt. John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) and James C. May, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association (ATA), stated that, “While we fully appreciate the difficult position that the Department faces to identify solutions to combat delays at JFK airport, we strongly urge you to focus on solutions other than instituting unreasonable caps on U.S. airlines at JFK or implementing congestion pricing. Either of these ‘solutions’ are fraught with negative and unintended consequences. Quite simply, these ‘solutions’ will raise airfares, undermine sacrifices already made by U.S. workers, and do little to relieve congestion in the long term.”

The letter, sent Nov. 14 to Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, calls for “immediate appointment of a senior-level appointee or ‘czar’ to direct resources to ensure timely implementation of possible solutions.”

“By all accounts, the appointment of a Florida czar in the spring of 2005 proved to be the difference between success and failure in reducing Ft. Lauderdale airspace congestion through a systemic, expeditious process,” the letter stated.

In the interim, the two presidents urged DOT to “endorse the time tested market approach followed in the rest of the world under the Worldwide Schedule Guidelines. This approach is a fair and transparent way to control congestion and also ensure that slots are used efficiently by allowing the marketplace to work.”
Other capacity improvements that should be pursued include the following:

The letter concluded that “clearly this is a complex problem and one where the ‘silver bullet’ solution of congestion pricing would ultimately simply damage the U.S. economy and the New York economy in particular. We believe that the solutions we have identified can meet the objective without causing economic harm. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with you.”

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For additional information about the industry, visit

ALPA represents more than 60,000 airline pilots at 42 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is

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ATA CONTACT: Victoria Day, (202) 626-4141
ALPA CONTACT: Pete Janhunen, Molly Martin, (703) 481-4440,