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NATCA: Five Leading Causes of Air Traffic Delays - (7/25/2000)

WASHINGTON — An air traffic controller from Newark International Airport testified today before the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. on airline consumer service and delays. A copy of his testimony is being posted on www.natca.org.  

Edward Kragh, National Air Traffic Controllers Association secretary at the Newark tower, observed that Newark International Airport "has had the dubious distinction" of suffering the most air traffic delays of any airport in the United States for six of the last seven years. "Yet, during this same period Newark has only ranged from the 15th to 20th busiest facility in the country. This year, we will handle aproximately 463,000 operations, but will most likely suffer more delays than either Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare or Hartsfield-Atlanta International — each which will handle almost double the number of operations," Kragh said.

The Newark situation demonstrates the multi-faceted and difficult nature of delays. In describing a major reason for delays, crowded skies, Kragh identified Newark’s particular issues related to runway design, location and routing traffic to accommodate noise abatement, among other factors. He also cited four additional factors: unrealistic scheduling, weather, modernization of the air traffic control system and policy changes affecting delays.

Other individuals testifying included Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Jane Garvey and Department of Transportation Inspector General Ken Mead. The majority of the question and answer dealt with airport capacity and airline scheduling. Senators Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., spoke very highly of the air traffic controller workforce in their opening statements.


NATCA represents over 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers, as well as civilian DOD and private sector controllers. It also represents 1,200 FAA engineers and architects, over 600 traffic management coordinators, agency operational support staff and regional personnel from FAA’s logistics, budget, finance and computer specialist divisions.

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