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Thu, May 22, 2008

DOT Once Again Opens Military Airspace For Holiday Flights

Follows Similar Measures Employed Last Year

Air travelers along the East Coast of the United States will once again get some measure of relief from the military this Memorial Day Weekend, thanks to a new agreement to make military airspace available for commercial airline flights off the East Coast, US Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced Thursday.

"This airspace will give travelers yet another reason to thank the military this Memorial Day weekend," Peters said. "It gives airlines a fighting chance to beat delays by allowing them to plan new routes in one of the most congestion aviation corridors on the country."

The Secretary said that the Department of Defense is making four routes available off the eastern seaboard for commercial airline flights starting at 1800 EDT on Friday, May 23. The space will be available continuously until 0700 EDT on Tuesday, May 27.

The arrangement follows similar openings of military airspace for last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, as ANN reported.

Peters noted travelers may also benefit from other steps recently taken by the Department of Transportation to reduce air travel delays. She noted, for example, that the Department is pursuing a plan at all three New York airports that combines caps and slot auctions to reduce congestion.

She added the FAA is expanding a program to help airlines avoid delays by adjusting air traffic routes to respond to weather developments. "Even though we can’t manage the weather, this program allows us to work around weather conditions and keep traffic moving," said acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell.

Peters also noted that the agency was putting in place a new program that cuts delays by using advance software to scan airports for unused take off and landing "slots." She added the FAA was also continuing to add new airspace routes in the New York region to help address chronic aviation backups in the region.

FMI: www.dot.gov, www.fly.faa.gov

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