The U.S. Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it would proceed with its plan to auction slots at Newark, New York Kennedy, and New York LaGuardia beginning in January. The proposal is opposed by both airlines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who charge that the proposal is illegal because slots have previously been recognized as airline assets, not federal ones.
They also contend that new entrants will be unable to successfully bid for slots. "Rather than addressing the root causes of congestion at New York's airports, the Bush Administration is spending its last days in office single-mindedly pursuing an alleged free-market experiment at some of the globe's most important aviation gateways," said IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani.
The DOT is following the Bush Administration's preference for "congestion pricing," which has been successful in highway and energy, but which airlines say are ineffective and unfair for air transportation. The rules released yesterday allow airlines to keep the "vast majority" of their current slots, but 10% of the remainder would be auctioned over the next five years, with others being withdrawn from use.