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Mon, Nov 12, 2007

Airlines Beefing Up For Turkey Day Travel

Airlines Will Conference With FAA Daily During Holidays

Commercial airlines are increasing staffing in hopes of avoiding delays during the upcoming travel rush during Thanksgiving holiday.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters held a conference call November 9, with the Federal Aviation Administration, major airlines, airports, and aviation trade groups to discuss their holiday traffic plans, according to Forbes.

Seasonal employees will help out at check-in kiosks and gate areas,  are among many other plans for dealing with the busy holiday travel period are planned according to David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association said Friday.

"The airlines detailed aggressive plans to ensure they have sufficient staff and resources on hand to cope with the upcoming holiday travel season," Peters said in an e-mail responding to questions about the conference call. "They understand the challenges that come with the additional traffic, added stress and inclement weather of this time of year and made strong commitments that they will be prepared."

The FAA and industry pledge to have airline's top executives participate in daily FAA briefings and to monitor busier airport hubs according to FAA sources.

"Passengers can expect full planes and carriers will be prepared for the volume of travelers." Said Castelveter.

After more than 24 percent of flights arrived late through September and its on-time performance remained the worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, airlines are working on to avoid delays, as reported by ANN.

The country's largest carriers on-time arrival rate of 81.7 percent in September improved from 76.2 percent in the same month a year ago, the Department of Transportation reported earlier this week.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association said delays are likely to worsen during the holiday season due to fewer fully trained air traffic controllers.

FAA officials balked at the idea of potential delays over staffing issues.

Peters held a two-day summit in October aimed at fixing "epidemic" delays at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport with the latest government proposal aimed at reducing JFK's hourly flight limit by 20 percent, as reported by ANN.

The airlines and the FAA are hoping a satellite-based air traffic control system called NexGen will help, but it will cost about $15 billion and take nearly 20 years to complete.

FMI: www.dot.gov/citizen_services/aviation/

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