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Extending Slot Exemptions: A4A Advocates for Enhanced Aviation Reliability

In an effort to address the ongoing challenges posed by the aftermath of the pandemic and the shortage of air traffic controllers in the New York and Washington regions, Airlines for America (A4A) has taken proactive steps. A4A recently penned a letter to the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requesting an extension of the slot exemptions granted earlier this year.

These exemptions, which were initially authorized until September 15th, are now being advocated by A4A to be extended until October 28th, aligning with the recommendations set forth by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for a full summer season extension.

A key aspect of A4A's request is the transparency in the hiring and certification progress of air traffic controllers in critical facilities. The letter, addressed to Marc Nichols, FAA's Chief Counsel, acknowledges the FAA's decision in March 2023 to prioritize operational reliability through limited slot usage exemptions at airports in the New York City area (EWR, JFK, LGA) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

The previous exemption allowed carriers to return up to 10% of reserved slots at JFK and LGA, as well as up to 10% of approved operating times at EWR, along with impacted slots at DCA for NYC, for the period spanning from May 15th to September 15th, 2023.

A4A acknowledges the operational challenges faced in recent months, even with the provided relief, and highlights that the FAA's intervention has prevented a potentially worse scenario. The organization stresses that without these measures, the ongoing personnel challenge could lead to operational disruptions.

Additionally, A4A points out that unless carriers adjust their flight schedules, the personnel shortage in the Newark airspace sector could lead to operational interruptions. The potential solution being explored involves transferring the responsibility of the Newark airspace sector to the Philadelphia Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities.

As the original exemptions expire, A4A underscores the need to maintain operational integrity while the shortage of FAA personnel persists. Thus, the organization urges the FAA to extend the notice until the end of the full summer season, on October 28th, with corresponding adjustments to return dates and published scheduling timelines.

In its pursuit of a more robust and efficient National Airspace System (NAS) capacity, A4A's efforts stand as a testament to the commitment of the aviation industry to adapt and collaborate for the collective benefit of all stakeholders involved.

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