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RAA blasts DOT decision to auction take-off and landing slots

Oct. 10, 2008, Washington, D.C.- The Regional Airline Association today blasted the Department of Transportation's decision to move forward with slot confiscation at New York metropolitan airports.


October 10, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

Oct. 10, 2008, Washington, D.C.- The Regional Airline Association today blasted the Department of Transportation's decision to move forward with slot confiscation at New York metropolitan airports.
 
Despite overwhelming and near-unanimous opposition from government, industry and community stakeholders, DOT plans to confiscate and then auction off a number of take-off and landing slots at New York area airports.
 
The announcement comes as a crushing blow to smaller communities across the nation.  Over 70 percent of airports in the United States rely on regional airlines for their only access to the nation's air transportation system.  These communities will suffer devastating service losses as airlines' takeoff and landing slots are confiscated and sold to the highest bidder and airlines are overwhelmed by increased costs and reduced points of access to the U.S. air transportation network. 
 
Said RAA president Roger Cohen:  "With the Dow at record lows and the economy in dire straits, and with passenger demand for air travel low and oil prices high, we find it shocking that this Administration continues to insist on a parting gift of devastating air service loss at communities large and small." 
 
DOT’s scheme will leave small communities disconnected as airlines, struggling with higher costs and reduced points of access to the system, will be forced to reduce service at smaller markets to focus on more profitable routes between large cities.  
 
In fact, a recent study by the NY and NJ Port Authority concluded that 25 small and medium-sized aviation markets would lose service to and from the New York metropolitan airports because auctions would force airlines to operate between large markets in order to make the slot purchase viable economically.
 
RAA's Cohen further called the scheme "illegal, plain and simple," citing a recent Government Accountability Office conclusion that U.S. aviation officials have no legal authority to auction off takeoff and landing slots.  "Instead of accepting a scheme that would only increase airline costs and decrease small community air service," Cohen noted, "we must move forward with air traffic modernization, which would improve the air travel experience for all passengers."