FAA: Bigger is better at LaGuardia
BA adopts plan for
British Airways has signed a deal
to participate in the Clear registered-traveler program this fall at
New York’s Kennedy Airport, giving the airline’s business travelers
and other frequent flyers the opportunity to pay an annual fee of
about $80 for separate and, hopefully, faster security screening.
Under program rules established
by the Transportation Security Administration, participants must
provide background information
about themselves so they can be
pre-screened by the TSA. They will
also provide a biometric identifier
such as a fingerprint for a biometric identity card.
BA’s agreement with Verified
Identity Pass also includes provisions for marketing the Clear
program to BA customers across
Shangri-La to run
first hotel in Japan
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La International has signed an agreement to manage its first hotel in
Under the agreement signed
with Mori Trust Co., Shangri-La will
manage the 204-room Shangri-La
Hotel, Tokyo, which will occupy
the top 11 floors of the Marunouchi Trust Tower Main Building. The
hotel is slated to open in March
2009 in the Marunouchi district,
beside Tokyo Station.
Work starts on P.R.
Work has begun on the 500-room,
$209 million Sheraton hotel at the
Puerto Rico Convention Center in
San Juan, marking the launch of
the 113-acre, $1.3 billion waterfront
development project in the convention center district. The Sheraton, scheduled to open in 2009,
will serve as the anchor hotel
for the convention center, which
opened last November.
A rendering of the Sheraton at the Puerto
Rico Convention Center in San Juan.
Larger planes and regional jets compete
for space on the taxiways at LaGuardia.
The FAA is proposing a mandated average capacity of 105 to 122 seats per
plane to ease congestion at the airport.
By Andrew Compart
At least it does to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is advocating punishing airlines for
flying too many small aircraft into New York’s LaGuardia Airport. If adopted, a plan would require
that aircraft flying in and out of LaGuardia average from seven to 34 more seats than the current
average, beginning in 2008.
The FAA also said it planned to ask Congress
to approve legislation that would make it far easier for LaGuardia to introduce congestion-based
pricing, under which airlines would pay more for
landing at the airport’s busiest times.
Both proposals are aimed at reducing congestion by creating incentives for airlines to operate
larger aircraft that carry more passengers. LaGuardia can’t handle more airplanes, but it can handle
more passengers, the FAA said.
Separately, the FAA is addressing congestion-related delays at Chicago’s O’Hare by temporarily extending a cap of 88 on the number of U.S.
and Canadian flights arriving during peak hours.
The cap would be reviewed every six months and
would be removed by Oct. 31, 2008, by which time
O’Hare expects to open a new runway.
O’Hare’s ability to expand is why no aircraft size
requirement is necessary there, the FAA said.
Size policy is controversial
The FAA is also proposing to extend its existing
cap on the number of flights per hour at LaGuardia during it busiest hours to 75, with some exceptions, until a permanent solution can be found.
The FAA said it would ask Congress for legislation that would let LaGuardia “auction” airport
usage times to airlines as a way to allocate capacity.
It is the aircraft size proposal, however, that seems
likely to generate the most controversy, since the
trend in commercial aviation has been to use more
smaller planes on domestic routes.
Many large network carriers have been operating smaller aircraft either to “right-size” planes
to match demand levels, to create additional frequencies for business travelers or to shift a bigger
portion of operations to international flights.
PHO TO B Y JULIE JACOBSON/AP IMAGES/2004
The FAA says that this preference for smaller
aircraft has been creating problems, particularly
for airports like LaGuardia that have no room to
Promoting larger aircraft
The use of aircraft with fewer than 71 seats to
serve LaGuardia from medium and large hub
airports has increased by more than 50% since
August 2001, the FAA said. As of April 2005, that
included 16 flights to Baltimore on aircraft averaging 38 seats, 44 to Raleigh-Durham averaging
50 seats and 20 to Philadelphia averaging 58 seats.
“Promoting larger aircraft is the only means to
increase passenger access to LaGuardia,” the FAA
said in an Aug. 29 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
To accomplish this, absent congestion-based
pricing or auctions, the FAA is proposing a preferred average aircraft size at LaGuardia ranging
from 105 to 122 seats, depending on whether an
FAA proposal to exempt service to non-hub and
small hub airports is also adopted.
Aircraft now operating at LaGuardia average 98
seats. The 105- to 122-seat proposal was based on
a target of 28. 5 million passengers a year and assumes a cap of 75 flight operations per hour.
Under the proposal, airlines would report on
Jan. 1, 2009, the average size of aircraft used at the
airport in 2008. If the average exceeded the target,
the airline would lose as many operating authorizations, or slots — the right to operate one takeoff or landing — as necessary to bring its average
below the target. Each carrier would be granted a
“baseline” of up to 10 slots per day that would not
be subject to the new size requirements.
The FAA said a 2009 launch would give airlines
enough time to adjust their LaGuardia operations.
The FAA is making its proposals now because
caps on flights to LaGuardia are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
The public has until Oct. 30 to file comments
on the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for
LaGuardia (docket number FAA-2006-25709).
The Transportation Department docket Web site
at http://dms.dot.gov provides instructions for filing comments electronically.
Bethune to chair
Former Continental CEO Gordon
Bethune has been named nonexecutive chairman of Aloha Air-group and Aloha Airlines.
Bethune, who retired from Continental in December 2004 after 10
years at the helm, is credited with
leading that carrier’s turnaround
after bankruptcy. Aloha emerged
from bankruptcy in February.
Gordon Bethune has left Travelport.
Until last month, Bethune was
chairman of Travelport, the Cendant travel division recently acquired by the Blackstone Group.
Hilton inks deal
with Chicago union
Hilton has reached a tentative accord with Chicago hotel workers
represented by Unite Here, covering the Hilton Chicago, the Palmer
House, the Drake and the O’Hare
Airport Hilton. The three-year
agreement is the first between the
union and a major hotel chain in
Chicago, Hilton said.
filed against NCL
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has cited Norwegian Cruise Line for alleged
discrimination. A suit filed in a
Honolulu federal court seeks back
pay and damages for seven former workers who claim they were
fired from the Pride of Aloha in
2004 because they were Muslims
or of Middle Eastern descent.
NCL denied the allegations and
said, “We are proud of our employment practices and record
and do not discriminate in hiring. ... We are confident that when
the facts and circumstances surrounding these probationary-pe-riod dismissals come out at trial,
our actions will be judged to have
been completely proper.”