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Thu, Apr 22, 2004

More Flight Reductions At O'Hare

It's Just So Busy!

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta Wednesday announced new reductions in United and American Airlines flight schedules aimed at further reducing congestion and passenger inconvenience at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Speaking to reporters in a telephone news conference, Secretary Mineta revealed plans by United and American Airlines to reduce their daily schedules by another 2.5 percent starting in early June, the second time the airlines have had to trim schedules to help reduce congestion at O’Hare.

Both airlines will reschedule the majority of targeted flights to slower times of the day, but each also has plans to cancel a handful of operations, Secretary Mineta said. A total of 17 United and 12 American flights are affected by the announcement.

"No matter how you look at it, these are tough decisions for the airlines," Secretary Mineta said. "But the consequences of doing nothing would be worse and far-reaching," he said, noting delays at O’Hare can impact "as many as 40 airports and thousands of travelers nationwide in a matter of minutes."

In January, Secretary Mineta announced the airlines would trim schedules by five percent to help cut delays. "There wasn’t much that we could do when the weather was bad," Mineta said, but he added the result after accounting for weather was a statistical drop in total minutes due to delays of 25 to 30 percent and an improvement of overall on-time arrivals by 11 percent.

"O’Hare delays for March are still high, and on-time performance fell," the Secretary said, "but the results of our models show that delays would have been significantly worse without the five percent reduction."

He said the impact of the earlier reductions is "positive but not good enough" pointing out the latest round of cuts is meant to head off the approaching summer storm season and an anticipated increase in vacation travel.

Secretary Mineta pledged to continue to "monitor closely the impact of this latest round of reductions" and promised to do "everything in our power to ensure that the process is fair to all of our customers -- the public, the residents of the communities served and affected by O’Hare and the airlines that contribute so much to our American economy."

He urged continued cooperation between the airlines and his department "to ensure that we are making the right decisions in the best interests of the traveling public and that we do nothing to unravel the rebounding confidence consumers have in the safety and security of air travel."



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