The Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2008, which was introduced by Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), with amendments also sponsored by U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Arlene Specter (R-Pa.) was signed by Bush on Dec. One amendment of the bill requires the federal government to provide to Congress a plan to reduce flight delays in the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania region. The amendment requires the Government Accountability Office to investigate the Bush administration's Airspace Redesign Plan as well as the effectiveness of a variety of approaches used nationwide to reduce flight delays. A report by the Government Accountability Office would be required to be submitted to Congress by Aug. 31, 2008. "Our air transportation system continues to be plagued by chronic delays, excessive noise and dangerously overcrowded skies but the Administration's response would increase costs, congestion and frustration for travelers," Clinton said. "I am proud the FAA will now be required to provide a real plan to deal with these problems." Schumer said, "These amendments are an important step toward forcing the Administration to take a long, hard look at the chaos in our skies, and to produce real recommendations to ensure that our congested aviation system receives some real relief." The federal Department of Transportation recently announced it would reduce flights at busiest times at John F. Kennedy International airport in an effort to reduce delays. Critics said what was needed was new, modern technology in air control systems, an adequate number of air controllers and improvement in management of airports and air space. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters last week ordered a nearly 20 percent cutback during the busiest periods at Kennedy, where delays cause a ripple effect at airports over much of the rest of the nation. Beginning March 15, 2008, the number of flights at JFK are to be "capped" at either 82 or 83 depending on the time of day. Kennedy now handles around 100 flights an hour at peak times. Peters said the total of flights at Kennedy would actually increase by perhaps 50 but would be distributed over more of the day and evening. Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International airports are the worst three on a list of the nation's 35 busiest airports when it comes to on-time flights.Reach contributing writer Phil Newman by e-mail at news@times
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