Gov't aims to reduce airline congestion

May 16, 2008 1:21:04 PM PDT
A week before Memorial Day travelers hit the airports, the Transportation Department announced Friday proposals to ease delays emanating from the New York City-area's congested airports, avoid widespread aircraft groundings and better inform travelers about prices and delays. The plans call for:

- Slot auctions at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, similar to those proposed last month at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Existing carriers would be forced to auction off some of their slots at the airports.

- Airlines and travel agents must disclose fees for checking a second bag in their online and print ads, and before anyone purchases a ticket.

- Airlines must report new and more complete data on the time passengers spend on the tarmac, an issue that gained prominence after two winter weather-related incidents in recent years when hundreds of passengers were stuck on the tarmac for up to 10 1/2 hours.

- The Federal Aviation Administration and airlines must improve procedures for requesting and approving alternative solutions for safety directives, and review existing communication rules to ensure "significant safety decisions are made using a clearly documented process" after American Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights last month to perform overdue inspections on MD-80 aircraft.