More Realistic Scheduling Can Reduce Flight Delays
July 30, 2009
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  • Posted by the Asbury Park Press



    The airport delays nationwide at all the major airports are caused mainly by overscheduling. The number of flights – departures and arrivals, at certain hours, morning, late afternoon/early evening – exceed the capacity of the existing runways. While delays occur for other minor reasons, overscheduling is most paramount.

    At Newark Liberty International Airport on Aug. 2, Continental Airlines scheduled 47 departures and 74 arrivals between 8 and 9:30 a.m., according to the airport’s Web site.

    It is easy to calculate that number of scheduled flights exceeds the capacity of all Newark Airport ‘s runways at that given time period. It is the actual reason for the major delays. As passengers, we are told by the captain on many flights, “We are delayed due to air traffic congestion and are No. 12 for takeoff.”

    While that statement by the airline captain is correct, the overly aggressive time scheduling by the airlines is the reason the problem was created in the first place. In Newark , during that same time period, several other airlines scheduled flights, not to the magnitude of the Continental flights but enough to further increase the delays.

    This bunching of arrivals and departures is further complicated by the additional air traffic spacing requirements of both John F. Kennedy International and La Guardia flight traffic. Add some inclement weather and the already overtaxed runway congestion problems and the air spacing problems are compounded many times over. This causes severe delays and flight cancellations at all the three New York area airports and at the origin and destination cities.

    To eliminate and lessen the airline delays and flight cancellations, there must be a cooperative effort on the part of all the airlines, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the flight controllers. The goal: to schedule, within a given period, only the number of flights that the airport is capable of reasonably handling within that specified time and giving consideration to inclement weather conditions possibly arising.

    We do not need additional government regulations concerning a matter that is so obviously corrected. The existing flight delays will be resolved only by a more realistic scheduling of the number of arrivals and departures. There is no desire on the part of the airlines or the Port Authority to correct the delay problems because both want the revenues from each arrival and departure.

    An additional solution to the delay problem would be to reduce the number of flights to specific destinations by using larger aircraft on those heavily traveled routes, thus creating additional time slots and air space for other flights.

    An additional benefit of better flight scheduling would be a reduction in the number of Transportation Security Administration personnel performing passenger checks, spreading out the TSA workload and eliminating the present surge periods that exist requiring extra TSA personnel for only short time periods.

    Consideration also should be given to the enormous amount of fuel wasted and the fuel cost that could be saved if the runway departure delays were lessened. Needed energy conservation would automatically take place.

    Until all of the airlines and the federal and bistate agencies accept their responsibility for the present airport delays, the delay and flight cancellation problems will not be resolved.

    Date: 2007-08-12