For Immediate Release

October 19, 2005
Contact: Kathleen Bergen
Phone: (404) 305-5100

Estimated Annual Airline Savings: $18 Million

WASHINGTON, DC – New air routes along the East Coast will cut flight delays and save fuel when they are implemented on October 27, 2005 the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today.

The Florida Airspace Optimization Plan will save millions of gallons of fuel, help airlines save an estimated $18.2 million a year and reduce delays for passengers by making significant changes to airspace controlled by air traffic control centers in Washington, Jacksonville and Miami, and various approach controls in Florida, the agency said. The plan will create more efficient routings from points north to Florida, the FAA added.

The FAA noted that it developed its air traffic plan to respond to seasonal spikes in air travel to warmer climates every November through March that lead to air traffic "hot spots". These hot spots create airspace congestion and lead to flight delays that have become more severe in recent years, as demand for flights to Florida has increased significantly.

The FAA estimates that the Florida Airspace Optimization Plan could save airlines as much as $18.2 million a year. Other benefits include shorter routes and reduced departure delays for North and Northeast metropolitan airports and Florida airports.

The FAA completed the plan in seven months; airspace changes normally take three to five years. The airspace redesign team used existing equipment, infrastructure and staff resources as much as possible without modifying the current air traffic automation system. "All our previous work in airspace redesign paid off," said Doug Molin, manager of tactical operations for the air traffic system in the Southeast. "Never before has a program of this magnitude been implemented so quickly."

"The airspace optimization plan creates multiple air traffic routes over the ocean," Molin added. "The airspace configuration hasn't changed in years, while traffic has increased exponentially. These added routes will get southeast-bound traffic off the ground sooner and clear up ground congestion for North and Northeast metropolitan airports."