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Old Posted Oct 10, 2008, 12:17 AM
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10/09/2008 12:49 PM

DOT Moves Forward With Flight Auction Plan

The plan to charge airlines to use three area airports is one step closer to taking off, despite legal challenges.

Today, Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced the rules to auction-off 10 percent of the "slots" at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark.

The airports have been blamed for causing two-thirds of flight delays around the nation. The DOT hopes paying to land and take off will force the airlines to put the limited space to better use.

The money raised would go to infrastructure improvements.

"Without slot options, consumers will bare the brunt of higher fares, fewer choices, and deteriorating service," said D.J. Gribbin, general counsel for the DOT. "All told our efforts to expand capacity and cut delays in the New York region will lead to more flights, better service, additional choices, and lower fares for countless thousands of travelers."

Last month, a ruling by congressional investigators sided with the Port Authority, which is against the plan. The lawmakers say the federal government has no right to auction off the space.

Other opponents like the Air Transport Association have already filed a lawsuit against the plan.

Today, the trade association released a statement saying in part: "...the DOT should follow the recommendations made by the New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee and implement fair and practical solutions to address delays and add needed new capacity."

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