President  |  Vice President  |  First Lady  |  Mrs. Cheney  |  News & Policies 
History & ToursKids  |  Your Government  |  Appointments  |  JobsContactGraphic version

Email Updates  |  Español  |  Accessibility  |  Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help

Printer-Friendly Version   Email this page to a friend

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 15, 2007

Fact Sheet: Taking Administrative Action to Address Air Traffic Delays
As The Holiday Season Approaches, President Bush Announces Short- And Long-Term Steps To Address Air Traffic Congestion And Delays, Calls On Congress To Take Action On FAA Modernization Legislation

      President Bush Discusses Aviation Congestion

Today, President Bush announced steps the Administration is taking to help relieve air traffic congestion and flight delays during the holiday season.  After directing them in September to develop a strategy to reduce aviation congestion, President Bush today met with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell to receive an update on their progress.  This year, travelers in our Nation faced some of the worst flying conditions in U.S. history – with record delays, cancellations, and lost luggage.  In February, the President sent Congress legislation to help prevent these problems by modernizing our aviation system, but Congress has failed to act. 

The Administration Is Taking The Following Short-Term Steps To Reduce Air-Travel Problems Over The Holidays

  1. The U.S. military is going to make some of its airspace available for use by civilian airliners this holiday season.  Through an agreement between the FAA and the Defense Department, the military will open up new "Thanksgiving Express Lanes" in the sky during the heaviest travel days to help reduce delays and congestion.  This newly available airspace will be available over water off the East Coast and will help the most congested regions – from Maine to Florida – for nearly five full days surrounding the holiday.

  2. The FAA is implementing measures to head off delays. 

  3. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA are encouraging airlines to take their own measures to prevent delays.  Airlines have already responded by agreeing to make more staff available to expedite check-in and boarding; set aside extra seats and even extra planes to help accommodate passengers affected by cancellations and delays; and bring in additional ticket kiosks, baggage handling gear, and rolling staircases.

New Proposed DOT Regulations Will Further Help Air Travelers Confronted By Delays And Cancellations

The President announced three new proposed DOT regulations to help ensure air travelers are treated fairly.  The regulations will not be final for several months, but the plan is for measures to be in effect by the summer travel season in 2008.  The proposals seek to:

  1. Double the amount of compensation passengers receive when they are forced off overbooked flights.  For example, a passenger forced to wait more than two hours for another flight would receive a minimum of $800, instead of the current $400.

  2. Require airlines to collect and provide DOT with better data on the sources of flight delays. 

  3. Evaluate a number of other requirements for the airlines – including mandatory contingency plans to aid stranded passengers and penalties for chronically delayed flights.

The FAA is also going to better inform consumers by providing real-time updates on whether flights at a particular airport are on time or delayed, and by how much.  This information will be available at:

To Solve Delay Problems In The Long Term, Congress Must Pass Legislation Modernizing Our Aviation System

In February, the Administration sent Congress a practical, comprehensive plan to modernize our air traffic control system, but Congress has failed to act on this proposal or address growing aviation delays in any meaningful way.  The Administration's proposal:

Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) have addressed some of these same issues in their FAA reform legislation.  The President looks forward to working with them as they lead other Members of Congress toward passing modernization legislation that includes the Administration's proposals – as soon as possible. 

Because Congress has failed to act, the President directed Transportation Secretary Peters and FAA Acting Administrator Sturgell in September to develop a plan to address air traffic congestion and flight delays.  Over the past seven weeks, Federal officials have had regular meetings with airlines, airport representatives, and consumer groups from the New York area to discuss a variety of approaches to reduce air traffic congestion, including operational improvements, scheduling reductions, and use of market-based mechanisms to better match supply and demand for air services. 



# # #

Printer-Friendly Version   Email this page to a friend

In Focus
October 2007   |   September 2007   |   July 2007   |   July 2007   |   June 2007   |   May 2007   |   April 2007   |   March 2007   |   February 2007

News by Date


Federal Facts

West Wing