The FAA has extended waivers allowing airlines to cut back on service at New York City-area airports due to ongoing air traffic control staffing problems.
By Alison Fox
The FAA has extended waivers allowing airlines to cut back on service at New York City-area airports due to the ongoing air traffic control staffing shortage.
The waivers — called slot waivers — were first granted in the spring and initially extended until the end of October, but have now been extended again until October 27, 2024, according to the FAA. The decision was made amid ongoing air traffic control staffing problems, which airline executives have warned may take years to fix.
“The number of certified controllers at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (N90) is still not sufficient to allow the FAA to handle normal traffic levels,” the FAA wrote in a statement, adding, “The agency continues to expect that airlines will operate larger aircraft to transport more passengers, have sufficient ground crews to service the larger aircraft and make sure passengers are fully informed about any possible disruptions.”
Last month, Airlines for America, which represents major carriers across the country, said the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility remained only 54 percent staffed. And in June, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union representing controllers, blamed the FAA for the shortage, saying the agency had a “flawed staffing model and inconsistent hiring.”
On Friday, the FAA said it will continue “working with NATCA on a long-term solution to solve the chronic low levels of fully certified air traffic controllers at N90.”
Earlier this month, Nick Calio, the CEO for Airlines for America, warned it would take up to seven years of hiring to replenish air traffic control staffing levels, and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has said the issues are creating scheduling uncertainty.
A representative for United Airlines told Travel + Leisure the airline has already trimmed its schedule by 10 percent.
“We’re confident these moves will help provide a more reliable travel experience, and as we implement our plan to take delivery of hundreds of new planes in the years ahead, we look forward to returning to growth in the Northeast and continued partnership with the FAA and DOT,” the spokesperson said, adding the airline’s “strategy of flying larger aircraft on these routes will keep the impact to customers to a minimum.”