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FAA’s congestion plan won’t work: Schumer

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Schumer, speaking at a news conference following massive delays at New York City airports over FAA safety inspections, quoted an internal U.S. Transportation Department report as saying the FAA's plan announced late last year will not work.Schumer also said the chaotic groundings of airlines could be avoided if the FAA would come up with a contingency plan to protect passengers during the next FAA safety inspection period.Schumer said the report by the Transportation Department Inspector General found that the FAA flight caps imposed by the FAA at Newark and JFK were unlikely to reduce delays this summer - even predicting the delays could get worse at LaGuardia and JFK because of poorly managed congestion."This report spells serious trouble for New York City air passengers this summer," Schumer said."Last year was bad, this week was worse, but this summer the sky is the limit," Schumer said. "The FAA's foot-dragging and half measures have done next to nothing to reduce delays at our clogged airports and it's all of us who pay the price. This report proves what we have been saying all along: We need to take broad, concrete steps to overhaul our aviation system, not half-measures and guesses."Schumer said the report, issued April 9, evaluated the steps the FAA has taken to mitigate delays in New York and across the country. The report was critical of the current plan to reduce delays, particularly in reference to the proposals to impose flight caps at JFK and Newark. The main aspects of the FAA plan were limits on flights into and out of New York airports."While capping hourly operations at JFK and Newark may alleviate the over-scheduling at peak times, history shows that caps do not necessarily translate into a significant reduction of delays or an increase in airline on-time performances," said the Transportation Department.The report said that despite flight limits, since 2004 at O'Hare Airport in Chicago delays still occur at 25 percent annually with a rate of 31 percent last summer, although delays have stabilized.Schumer said LaGuardia has had flight limits for several years, but remains the second-most delayed airport in the United States.The report predicted that JFK and Newark could face worsening delays.Schumer said that "with the FAA safety crackdown continuing through June and the height of the summer travel season approaching, mass groundings of entire jet fleets like we saw this week are very likely to occur, wreaking even greater havoc on the airport transportation system."Schumer called for permanently opening military airspace to provide more maneuvering room for heavy traffic points during the summer and more air traffic controllers.

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