Senate committee blasts landing slot auction

August 7, 2008

Despite almost universal objection to the landing slot auction plan, the FAA bulled ahead and announced it would auction two slots at Newark Liberty International Airport. (The slots came open after the bankruptcy of Eos Airlines.) That brought a stinging rebuke from the lawmakers who write the checks to fund the FAA.

“There is no question that your insistence on moving forward these controversial efforts will subject the Department [of Transportation] and the FAA to extensive and costly litigation that will benefit neither the taxpayer nor the air traveler,” wrote Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash. ), chairman of the Appropriation transportation subcommittee, and Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.), ranking member, to DOT Secretary Mary Peters. They said that diverting millions of FAA funds for this “untried, controversial, and illegal auction exercise” would exacerbate the FAA’s “many challenges in maintaining the appropriate levels of safety in our national aviation system.”

The senators’ letter reiterated many of AOPA’s arguments against the FAA selling landing rights.

And the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns Newark airport, said it would ban any airliner that used an auctioned landing slot. “When you get on the ground, you’ll have to turn around and go back,” Port Authority Director of Aviation William R. DeCota told The New York Times.