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Airlines Agree to Reduce Flights to Chicago O’Hare Airport

The Associated Press reported, Federal Aviation Administration head Marion Blakey, said, ”O’Hare will no longer be the place where on-time schedules come to die.”

The order, in effect Nov. 1 through the end of April, is aimed at reducing delays at O’Hare by about 20 percent and the rest of the national network by about 5 percent.

The agreement was reached following negotiations earlier this month in Washington that involved 16 airlines and the FAA, which had been trying to ease delays at O’Hare that officials say hamper the nation’s entire air system.

Domestic airlines agreed to limit O’Hare to 88 arrivals per hour between the peak hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Federal transportation officials had previously discussed limiting flights to 86 arrivals per hour.

United and American, which account for 86 percent of flights at the Chicago airport, had already agreed to flight reductions. They offered to support the new deal but wanted other airlines to make schedule cuts as well, according to the AP.

United will cut 20 arrivals and American will cancel 17 incoming flights between noon and 8 p.m.

“We need to steer a course that will keep passengers and the economy moving without stunting the growth of competitive service out of O’Hare,” Mineta said.

Four other airlines were able to increase their flights: Alaska Airlines, America West, Spirit Airlines and USA 3000. Those airlines currently have eight arrivals or fewer per day at O’Hare and will be allowed to increase their arrivals to eight per day but not more than one additional arrival between noon and 8 p.m.

FAA official Sharon Pinkerton told congressional aides in a conference call earlier Wednesday that federal officials were trying to make sure “low-cost” carriers had airport access, reported the AP.

She said the long-term solution to the airport’s flight congestion is to add more capacity at O’Hare.

About 66 percent of arrivals at O’Hare have been on time this year, compared to 80 percent system-wide.

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