Airlines Win Delay In Plan for Congestion
Carriers Protest Proposed Costs

Associated Press
Friday, February 8, 2008

The government has delayed by at least a month a plan to reduce congestion at the nation's airports after stiff resistance from airlines.

A federal policy that would allow airports to charge higher landing fees during peak periods, and for other reasons, aims to reduce delays by encouraging airlines to spread their flights more evenly throughout the day. The policy, which also would encourage congested airports to include the cost of expansion projects in the landing fees, had been scheduled to go into effect in March, after a 45-day comment period.

But airline trade groups, which oppose the plan, requested and were granted a 30-day extension of the comment period, a Transportation Department spokesman said yesterday.

The Air Transport Association, which represents the nation's largest airlines, welcomed the government's decision for giving it "more time to thoroughly review the proposal and provide meaningful input," said spokesman David Castelveter.

Airline delays last year were the second-worst since data began being collected in 1995, the department said this week.

Meanwhile, the association representing airport owners and operators said its members were ready to act but did not oppose the airlines' request for an extension.

"Airports are ready to implement measures to address passenger congestion and delay today," said Deborah McElroy, executive vice president for policy and external affairs at Airports Council International-North America.

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