As the government prepares for action against the record delays in airports across the country and focuses chiefly on New York City’s three major airports, the Air Transportation Association (ATA) takes issue against their solution of “congestion pricing.” Under this system, travelers who choose to fly at peak times of day to or from LaGuardia (LGA), Kennedy (JFK), or Newark (EWR) pay more, the idea being that this fare hike will diminish bookings and thus congestion at these airports.
In a letter to Mary E. Peters, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, ATA President James C. May says: “We fundamentally disagree that the appropriate response to strong customer demand for air transportation to the New York-New Jersey region is to raise the cost of flying there.” He maintains that such a measure will only “drive away average travelers in favor of those who can pay top dollar”.
According to May, “[the] real solution is [to] increase system capacity by modernizing the air traffic control system.”
White House officials said they were also considering capping the number of flights. Another option would be to institute rules requiring airlines to provide passengers with more information about frequently delayed flights and to offer greater compensation to travelers who are bumped from such flights.
The one thing that everyone seems to agree on, passengers and officials alike, is that the current situation — of frequent and lengthy delays, record cancellations, and low service — is insupportable and needs amendment. How this will actually play out, and what improvements travelers actually see, remains to be seen. It should be an interesting ride, however.