For Immediate Release

May 10, 2007

The Problem:

Snapshot of Aviation Delays

  • The air transportation system is stretched thin. Currently, the system handles 750 million passengers each year. We expect this number to reach one billion by 2015 and forecasts indicate increases in demand ranging from a factor of two to three by 2025.
  • The current system is already straining and will reach gridlock by 2015 if we fail to act. Passengers will experience ever-increasing levels of congestion unless the air transportation system is fundamentally transformed.
  • The percentage of on-time arrivals at the nation’s busiest airports has steadily declined each year since 2002, when 82 percent of flights arrived on time at the 35 busiest airports. In 2006 the on-time arrival rate at those airports fell to 75 percent.
  • Delays in 2006 were the worst in history. Passengers at the three most delayed airports in the nation — Newark, JFK and LaGuardia — experienced on-time arrivals roughly 65 percent of the time and delays averaged one hour. That is unacceptable.

The National Vision: Reduce Delays, Eliminate Congestion

  • The FAA works to reduce delays and eliminate congestion every day, starting literally from the ground up. The President’s goal is simple and direct: get people and goods where they need to go as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • We are building new runways, installing new technology, and putting new procedures in place to facilitate capacity and efficiency enhancements.
  • To combat aviation congestion, the Department’s strategy calls for major technology upgrades and capacity improvement projects at major airports, all while managing congestion at key hot spots, such as New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

We're Making Progress. Here’s How:

On the Ground: Enhanced Airport Capacity

  • Since 2001, we have built ten miles of new runways at ten of our busiest airports.1 Together these accommodate over 1.6 million more operations per year and decrease average delay per operation at these airports by approximately five minutes.
  • By 2010, new projects will be completed at Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma, O’Hare, Dulles and Charlotte.

In the Air: The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)

  • As air travel demand continues to rise, and it will, simply adding pavement to the existing airports will not be enough.
  • The current air traffic system was built on 1960s technology and has reached the limits of its ability to handle more traffic. It cannot be expanded. NextGen is a revolutionary approach that will enable us to handle up to three times today’s traffic levels.
  • NextGen is a long-term transformation of our nation’s air transportation system. It will use technologies such as satellite-based navigation, surveillance, and networking. We are setting the stage to develop an air transportation system that will be safe, able to meet growing demand, and responsive to evolving business models.
  • Aviation’s ability to continue to play its traditionally dynamic role in our economy will be substantially diminished unless new NextGen technology and procedures are put in to place now.
  • NextGen is not only necessary to accommodate increased levels of commercial travel, but also to meet the growth in new types of air travel that are taking the skies. We are expecting a surge in traffic from a new generation aircraft called Very Light Jets (VLJs). These high-performance jets are inexpensive and will be able to land just about anywhere. Commercial Space is another new market well under way that must be accommodated in our air transportation system.
  • The Administration’s NextGen Financing Reform Act, sent to Congress in February, will provide a stable, cost-based revenue stream to fund the transition to NextGen.
  • The current tax system expires September 30, however, so Congress must act now.

1 Detroit, Cleveland, Denver, Miami, Houston, Orlando Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, St. Louis and Atlanta.