US Court Halts New York Airport Slots Auction

December 9, 2008

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A US Court of Appeals agreed to stay the auction of landing or takeoff slots that airlines are now awarded, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Monday.

"The Port Authority applauds today's decision halting the Bush Administration's 11th-hour plan to auction existing landing and take-off slots at the New York metropolitan airports to the highest bidder, which would invariably drive up ticket prices for passengers for the same service without alleviating delays," the agency said in a statement.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the stay.

One of the Port Authority's most important economic pillars is its three major airports, according to Fitch Ratings, which on December 1 noted that gains in international travel are helping to make up for recession-driven declines in domestic flights.

But the Port Authority, which was joined by other airports around the nation, feared that the Bush administration plan to auction slots would threaten the vitality of its airports because airlines, if forced to pay up for slots, would switch to larger planes.

That means as many as 2,300 communities around the nation, whose airports are limited to smaller planes, could lose service. This might cost the Port Authority revenues, which also could happen if fewer people flew because airlines raised ticket prices to make up for the cost of the slots.