Blame Airlines Themselves for Cancellations, Delays
July 29, 2009
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  • Letter to the Editor

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    The article “Corporate jets only add to crowded skies” (Travel, July 22) ignores the true culprits behind airline delays. While the commercial airlines would like to pass the blame for the staggering amount of cancellations and delays, the vast majority of flight delays stem from the airlines’ own business practices.

    Specifically, while the article blames delays on corporate executives’ “commandeering” company jets and causing delays, the Federal Aviation Administration’s own guidelines require that small aircraft not get preferential treatment on takeoff or landing. In fact, many of these small aircraft do not even use the same airports as passenger jets.

    General aviation most often uses small, regional airports to take off and land, purposely avoiding the larger airports served by commercial jets, and accounts for a mere 4 percent of the traffic at the busiest airports in the United States.

    The major airlines would like you to believe that they hold no responsibility for delays and congestion. While it is true that weather delays are unavoidable, scheduling problems are not. The airlines have a nasty habit of scheduling too many flights for takeoff in a given time slot, disregarding the safety limits of air-traffic control.

    This results in a logjam of commercial airliners sitting on the tarmac, waiting for their turn. Their own inefficiency and poor scheduling practices have a ripple effect: One delayed flight at O’Hare in Chicago can cause many delayed flights in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale or Orlando.

    Commercial airlines are spearheading a multimillion-dollar ad and lobbying campaign to try to convince Congress and passengers that the airlines are not to blame for the massive delays created by their own over-scheduling, all so they can try to build public support for a new tax-cut proposal they are pushing in Congress. After decades of bailouts and tax breaks, enough is enough.


    Lake Worth

    Editor’s note: Don Roller is an airline transport-rated pilot with about 30 years’ flying experience. He works for a private company that owns a jet.

    Date: 2007-08-24