Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Monday Business | Preview

Flight Delays, Cancellations to Be Discussed

August 21, 2000|Reuters

A meeting today of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, airline executives and other aviation participants has a tough agenda: fixing a rash of flight delays and cancellations and the public's ensuing frustration. Although the issue has been highlighted by widespread cancellations at United Airlines, which are mostly due to labor troubles, the air traffic control system itself has struggled to keep pace with growth in air travel. "On a perfect day, everything's fine," said John Kennedy, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines Inc. "Under ideal conditions, the system operates effectively, but under adverse weather, it can't adjust to the demands." The number of U.S. passengers more than doubled to 635 million last year compared with 278 million in 1978, the year the industry deregulated, and was expected to grow to more than 1 billion by 2009. But as more and more planes take to the skies, the system has kept to an antiquated design. Frequently described as "highways in the sky," it has a finite number of routes and a regional system for monitoring traffic. U.S. airport capacity has also remained limited, and the hub-and-spoke system favored by airlines has not helped--half of the traffic is carried by just 17 of the nation's 422 commercial airports. Many airports have expansion plans but face opposition from local residents. "The infrastructure has not been brought along at the same pace [as demand], never mind planning for the future," said John Mazor, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Assn., which represents about 58,000 pilots at U.S. and Canadian airlines. ALPA will be represented at the meeting, along with top executives from major U.S. airlines and the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|