FAA Suspends Auction of Flight Slot at Newark Airport

It is being reported by several news outlets that the FAA has suspended its auction of flight slots at Newark Airport.  The auction was slated for September 3, 2008.  According to Bloomberg News the Order, issued by FAA Chief Counsel, Kerry Long, stated that “[t]he protesters have demonstrated compelling reasons to maintain the status quo” pending a study of their objections.

This is just the latest in a series of events that all relate to the FAA’s redesign of the airspace in the New Yor, New Jersey and Philadelphia area.  It began with the Airspace Redesign decision last September, continued through the “congestion management” rules for JFK and Newark as well as  for LaGuardia, and on the “written re-evaluation” of those rules that the FAA tied back to the Airspace Redesign.

The Order was in response to a Protest filed five major airlines, Northwest, Delta, Continental, US Air, and United, along with the Air Transport Association (ATA) with the FAA’s Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition. Click here for the New York Times articleClick here for the Forbes article.

The Air Transport Association issued the following statement in response to Chief Counsel Long’s Order:

We are pleased that the FAA Office of Dispute Resolution Acquisition has granted our request for suspension of the September 3 auction of two slots at Newark airport and fully expect that the process will result in a determination that FAA lacks the legal authority to conduct the auction.

The Air Transport Association had previously, on August 11, 2008, filed a Petition for Review in the D.C. Circuit asking the court to overturn the FAA’s decision to hold slot auctions for Newark.

Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters issued a statement through her spokeman, Brian Turmail, indicating that “[t]oday’s disappointing delay means travelers will have to wait a little longer for relief from the high fares, stagnant service and limited competition.”  However, the FAA “remain[s] highly confident of a speedy and favorable ruling in this matter.”

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