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Airlines urged to reduce schedules

The government may act if carriers don't, the FAA administrator says.

September 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Dogged by record flight delays, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that airlines needed to shrink their schedules or potentially face government action.

"The airlines need to take a step back on scheduling practices that are at times out of line with reality," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said at an industry luncheon.

Blakey said the agency was particularly concerned about overcrowded skies and airports along the East Coast, saying, "If the airlines don't address this voluntarily, don't be surprised when the government steps in."

Blakey finishes a five-year stint at the agency Thursday.

The airline industry's on-time performance in the first seven months of 2007 was its worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, according to government data.

U.S. carriers reported an on-time arrival rate of 69.8% in July, the most recent statistics available, down from 73.7% a year earlier, according to the Transportation Department.

David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Assn., an industry group, said any effort to reduce crowding in the Northeast should involve international airlines and corporate jets, as well as U.S. airlines.

Castelveter also said the airlines' schedules were intended to meet the demands of customers.

"The carriers put airplanes where people want to go and when they want to fly," he said. "They're not flying empty airplanes."

The Air Transport Assn.'s members include Continental Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, Southwest Airlines Co. and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines.

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