Staffing-Related Relief Concerning Operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport, October 27, 2024, Through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 30, 2025, Through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025), 49256-49259 [2024-12690]

Download as PDF 49256 Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 113 / Tuesday, June 11, 2024 / Notices OMB Control Number: 2120–0698. Title: Advisory Circular (AC): Reporting of Laser Illumination of Aircraft. Form Numbers: Advisory Circular 70– 2B, Reporting of Laser Illumination of Aircraft. Type of Review: Renewal of an information collection. Background: The Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on the following collection of information was published on August 17, 2023 (88 FR 58633). Advisory Circular 70–2B provides guidance to civilian air crews on the reporting of laser illumination incidents and recommended mitigation actions to be taken in order to ensure continued safe and orderly flight operations. Information is collected from pilots and aircrews that are affected by an unauthorized illumination by lasers. The requested reporting involves an immediate broadcast notification to Air Traffic Control (ATC) when the incident occurs, as well as a broadcast warning of the incident if the aircrew is flying in uncontrolled airspace. In addition, the AC requests that the aircrew supply a written report of the incident and send it by fax or email to the Washington Operations Control Complex (WOCC) as soon as possible. Respondents: Approximately 2,339 pilots and crewmembers. Frequency: Information is collected on occasion. Estimated Average Burden per Response: 10 minutes. Estimated Total Annual Burden: 220 hours. Issued in Washington, DC, on June 6, 2024. Sandra L. Ray, Aviation Safety Inspector, AFS–260. [FR Doc. 2024–12703 Filed 6–10–24; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Aviation Administration Staffing-Related Relief Concerning Operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport, October 27, 2024, Through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/ 2025) and March 30, 2025, Through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025) Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). ACTION: Extension to limited waiver of the slot usage requirement. AGENCY: This action extends the Staffing-Related Relief Concerning SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Jun 10, 2024 Jkt 262001 Operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport, published on September 20, 2023, from October 27, 2024, through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 30, 2025, through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025). The limited waiver remains effective until October 25, 2025, and does not apply to any slots granted by the Department of Transportation pursuant to section 505 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024. DATES: This action is applicable on October 27, 2024. ADDRESSES: Requests may be submitted by mail to Slot Administration Office, System Operations Services, AJR–0, Room 300W, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591, or by email to: 7-awa-slotadmin@faa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Al Meilus, Slot Administration and Capacity Analysis, FAA ATO System Operations Services, AJR–G5, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267–2822; email al.meilus@faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility (N90) currently provides Air Traffic Control (ATC) services to overhead flights in the Northeast corridor and to the New York City area airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The airspace complexity resulting from the close proximity of the major commercial airports serving the New York City region is a significant contributing factor to delays at JFK, LGA, and EWR. Against this challenging backdrop, N90 continues to face staffing shortfalls that are impacting ATC’s ability to efficiently manage the volume of air traffic in this congested airspace despite best efforts to resolve staffing shortfalls. The FAA has made significant changes to increase N90 staffing through a combination of incentive and training programs, as well as by relocating control of the EWR area from N90 to the Philadelphia Terminal Radar Approach Control (PHL) beginning in late July of this year to relieve N90 staffing pressures. The FAA has determined N90 will need to reach at least 70% of its targeted number of onboard Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) before ATC can efficiently manage the full PO 00000 Frm 00112 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 capacity of the New York airspace that was in place prior to May 15, 2023. The operational impact of changes to address N90 staffing shortages will not be realized immediately but do chart a path to mitigating the impact in the next 18–24 months. The targeted staffing number at N90 is 226 CPCs; the current CPC onboard number at N90 is 135 (59.7% staffed). CPCs at N90 presently are divided between five different areas: EWR, Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP), JFK, LGA and the Liberty area. The N90 EWR area currently has 33 CPCs; 24 of the 33 EWR area CPCs will be transferred to PHL in July, the remaining 9 EWR CPCs will be reassigned to the other remaining areas in N90. Transferring control of the EWR area to PHL and adding 9 CPCs to the remaining N90 areas will result in an estimated staffing level of 68% of the targeted number of onboard CPCs at the areas remaining in N90 by the end of 2025. Control of EWR area will remain at PHL; however, of the 24 CPCs transferred to PHL, 18 are planned to return to N90 at the end of July 2026 and will be redistributed to the remaining N90 areas. The FAA estimates that the collective redistribution of 27 former EWR CPCs to the other areas of N90, along with the removal of EWR area servicing responsibilities, should result in N90 exceeding the 70% mark by the conclusion of 2026. At PHL, actions are currently underway to start CPC trainees to service the EWR area and replace the 18 EWR area CPCs that will return to N90 at the end of July 2026. Unlike N90, there is a robust pipeline of experienced controllers interested in transferring to PHL. This pipeline of personnel will allow the FAA to build up CPC staffing for the EWR area at PHL more quickly than has been experienced at N90. Regardless, the FAA will continue to invest in staffing at N90 to meet anticipated future needs. With ever-growing demand for air travel in the New York City region, additional measures are necessary to ensure the FAA is able to provide expeditious services to aircraft operators and their passengers that traverse this airspace. Early discussions with carriers indicate an interest in increasing operations after October 27, 2024, through most of the Winter 2024/2025 scheduling season and for all of the Summer 2025 scheduling season. This being the case, the FAA expects increased delays and cancellations in the New York region to exceed those experienced over Summer 2022 and Winter 2022/2023 1 if a waiver similar to 1 Refer E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM to ‘‘Analysis’’ section for delay analysis. 11JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 113 / Tuesday, June 11, 2024 / Notices the one that has been in effect for the Summer 2023, Winter 2023/2024, and Summer 2024 season is not in place for the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling season to allow carriers to reduce schedules without penalties for non-use of slots or previously approved operating times. Reducing schedules will improve the alignment between scheduled operations and actual operations, will help prevent unnecessary delays, will help optimize the efficient use of the airports’ resources, and will help deliver passengers to their destinations more reliably and on time. Summary of Petitions Received On April 3, 2024, Airlines for America (A4A) submitted a petition of behalf of its member carriers 2 requesting an extension of the current relief provided by FAA due to postpandemic effects on ATC staffing at N90 through the end of the Summer 2025 season. A4A asserts that the current slot waiver successfully created a better travel experience for consumers and that the underlying conditions creating the need for a waiver still exist as staffing shortages persist. In addition, A4A requests that FAA restore carriers’ ability to request retroactive relief if the impacts of controller staffing shortages are even more severe than anticipated and that the FAA not reallocate returned slots for ad-hoc use during the waiver period. Finally, A4A requests that FAA make a timely decision regarding relief as time is needed to give carriers stability and the ability to plan. On April 5, 2024, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) submitted a petition on behalf of its member carriers 3 in support of A4A’s request for an extension of the current slot relief through the end of the Summer 2025 season and other relief to protect the traveling public from operational disruptions. IATA asserts that the current relief allowed for careful planning by airlines and resulted in a notably better travel experience for consumers. IATA requests that FAA grant this relief by May 1, 2024, so that carriers can make the complex aircraft khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 2 A4A members are Alaska Air Group, Inc.; American Airlines Group, Inc.; Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.; Delta Air Lines, Inc.; FedEx Corp.; Hawaiian Airlines; JetBlue Airways Corp.; Southwest Airlines Co.; United Airlines Holdings, Inc.; and United Parcel Service Co. Air Canada is an associate member. Alaska Airlines did not join in the submission of A4A’s letter. 3 IATA is the trade association of the world’s airlines, comprising some 320 member airlines in more than 120 countries and representing approximately 83 percent of the world’s total air traffic. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Jun 10, 2024 Jkt 262001 and human capital decisions necessary to serve the flying public. On April 19, 2024, the Airports Council International of North America (ACI–NA) submitted a petition on behalf of its member airports 4 opposing A4A’s request for an extension of the current slot relief. ACI–NA asserts that there is no proven correlation between the slot relief and ATC capacity shortage and that slot usage waivers in general only serve to protect market access for incumbents. It seeks information surrounding and supporting the decision to grant slot relief for impacted New York airports and requests the FAA to provide an opportunity to the public to comment on A4A’s request for relief. Standard At JFK and LGA, slot-holding carriers must use each assigned slot at least 80 percent of the time.5 The FAA will withdraw slots not meeting the minimum usage requirements. The FAA may waive the 80 percent usage requirement in the event of a highly unusual and unpredictable condition that is beyond the control of the slotholding air carrier, and which affects carrier operations for a period of five consecutive days or more.6 At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), the FAA also will recall any slot not used at least 80 percent of the time over a two-month period.7 The FAA may waive this minimum usage requirement in the event of a highly unusual and unpredictable condition that is beyond the control of the slot-holding carrier, and which exists for a period of nine or more days.8 In determining historical rights to allocated slots, including whether to grant a waiver of the usage requirement, the FAA seeks to ensure the efficient use of valuable aviation infrastructure and maximize the benefits to both airport users and the traveling public. 4 ACI–NA is an organization representing local, regional, and state governing bodies that own and operate more than 300 airports operating in the United States; and nearly 400 aviation-related businesses. The ACI–NA Slot Task Force comprises all Level 2 and Level 3 airports in the United States. 5 Operating Limitations at John F. Kennedy International Airport, 89 FR 41486 (May 13, 2024); Operating Limitations at New York LaGuardia Airport, 89 FR 41484 (May 13, 2024). 6 At JFK, the FAA will determine historical rights to operating authorizations and withdrawal of those rights due to insufficient usage on a seasonal basis and in accordance with the schedule approved by the FAA prior to the commencement of the applicable season. See JFK Order, 89 FR at 41488. At LGA, the FAA will withdraw any operating authorization not used at least 80 percent of the time over a two-month period. See LGA Order, 89 FR at 41485. 7 See 14 CFR 93.227(a). 8 See 14 CFR 93.227(j). PO 00000 Frm 00113 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 49257 The minimum usage requirement is expected to accommodate routine cancellations under all but the most unusual circumstances. Carriers proceed at their own risk if they make scheduling decisions in anticipation of the FAA granting a slot usage waiver. Analysis The number of certified controllers at N90 is still not sufficient to allow the FAA to handle normal traffic levels. The FAA has worked with NATCA on a long-term solution to solve thechronic low levels of fully certified air traffic controllers at that facility through a combination of incentive and training programs, as well as relocating control of the EWR area to PHL. The FAA will continue to partner with NATCA as it continues efforts to remediate ATC staffing shortages at N90. Due to the volume of originating and destination flights in the New York City region, as well as the interdependency and complexity of the airspace surrounding JFK, LGA, and EWR, delays caused in part by N90 staffing shortfalls are expected to significantly impact carriers’ ability to operate and meet minimum usage requirements in the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons. Absent increased flexibility, the FAA anticipates a high likelihood of congestion, delay, and cancellations at JFK, LGA, and EWR. Typically, the 20 percent nonutilization allowed under the minimum usage requirement accounts for cancellations due to ATC staffing delays; however, the extent of N90 staffing shortfalls and the expected numbers of scheduled operations for the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons present a highly unusual and unpredictable condition beyond the control of carriers that will impact operations through the entire Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons. Using the Annual Service Volume (ASV) model,9 the FAA projected the delay the NYC airports would experience in the absence of a waiver for Summer 2024.10 Using Summer 9 FAA-developed modeling suite of tools for conducting operational impact analysis for airports and to establish the annual service volume for airports. ASV simulations relate total annual operations to a target delay value and are used by FAA in reports to Congress that identify the airports projected to constrain the NAS. See https:// www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_ offices/ato/service_units/systemops/perf_analysis/ sim_tools. 10 The FAA projected a Summer 2024 scenario because the FAA has already received the air carrier schedules for the Summer 2024 scheduling season, and demand is not likely to decrease in 2025. E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1 49258 Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 113 / Tuesday, June 11, 2024 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 2022 data 11 as baseline comparison, the FAA estimates Summer 2024 would experience increased operations by 8.8% to 11%,12 which would result in 2.3 to 2.8 million minutes of additional delay, or 53% to 65% additional delay, compared to the delay experienced in Summer 2022. At a minimum, the FAA expects these delay numbers to remain valid through Summer 2025. Therefore, a waiver of minimum slot usage requirements at JFK and LGA, and a similar policy of prioritizing returned operations at EWR, through October 25, 2025, is necessary to allow carriers to reduce operations to enable scheduling and operational stability for the benefit of the flying public. In addition, because New York CityDCA is a high-frequency market for multiple carriers, the FAA recognizes this market is a likely target for carriers to consolidate flights while retaining their network connectivity. If carriers choose to reduce their schedules in the New York City-DCA market, the FAA encourages, to the extent practical, carriers to utilize their DCA slots to operate to other destinations. However, if carriers choose not to utilize their DCA slots elsewhere, the FAA may consider providing relief to DCA slots that are impacted by the reduction in operations at the New York City airports, except that the limited waiver of the minimum slot usage requirements is not available for any slots granted by the DOT pursuant to section 505 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 (Pub. L. 118–63) Carriers have the ability to request retroactive relief; however, they should be aware that the N90 staffing shortfalls will not likely form a sufficient basis for further relief going forward in the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons because carriers will have had sufficient opportunity to plan and take remedial action under this waiver policy. The FAA does not foresee providing additional post-hoc relief associated with ATC staffing given the extraordinary relief provided here. Given this relief, operational impacts associated with N90 staffing during the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling season will likely not have been beyond carriers’ control and will 11 Summer 2022 data is used as baseline for comparison because this was the last summer scheduling season unaffected by the ATC waivers. 12 Under the current waiver, carriers returned 9% of their initially submitted schedules. Compared to Summer 2023, scheduled operations in Summer 2024 increased by 2%. If the FAA assumes an 80% actual usage rate, that results in 8.8% (that is, ((0.09 + 0.02) × 0.8 = 0.088) increase of actual operations. If the FAA assumes 100% actual usage rate, then that would be an 11% (0.09 + 0.02) increase. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Jun 10, 2024 Jkt 262001 not serve as a justification for a separate waiver. Decision The FAA determined that the postpandemic effects on N90 staffing meet the applicable waiver standards and warrant a limited waiver of minimum slot usage requirements at JFK and LGA to allow carriers to return up to ten percent of their slots at each airport, as well as impacted operations between DCA and the New York City airports. In addition, the FAA has determined the post-pandemic effects on N90 staffing warrant a limited policy for prioritizing returned operations at EWR to allow carriers to return up to ten percent of their approved operating timings, for purposes of establishing a carrier’s operational baseline in the next corresponding season. Despite staffing projections indicating N90 will not reach 70% of the targeted staffing level until the conclusion of 2026, the FAA is taking a measured approach and providing relief in this waiver notice only until the end of the Summer 2025 scheduling season. The FAA will reevaluate the staffing levels at N90 and the impact to operations in the New York City area before deciding if a waiver beyond the Summer 2025 scheduling season is necessary. Carriers seeking to return their slots and approved operating timings must do so by August 15, 2024, for the Winter 2024/2025 scheduling season (October 27, 2024, through March 29, 2025); and by January 15, 2025, for the Summer 2025 scheduling season (March 30, 2025, through October 25, 2025) to be eligible for relief under this waiver. For DCA, this relief is available only for flights impacted by operations to or from the New York City area airports. If carriers utilizing the relief provided under this limited waiver at EWR subsequently operate unapproved flights at that airport, those carriers will forfeit their scheduling preference to an equal number of returned, approved operating timings chosen at the FAA’s discretion for the subsequent equivalent traffic season. Furthermore, the FAA expects carriers to up-gauge aircraft serving the affected airports to the extent possible to maintain passenger throughput and minimize the impact on consumers. The FAA also expects carriers to maintain connections between the affected airports and regional airports to the extent possible in support of continuous scheduled interstate air transportation for small communities and isolated areas. The FAA will closely coordinate with the Department of Transportation, which will be monitoring for indications of PO 00000 Frm 00114 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive practices or other unlawful economic activity associated with or resulting from the relief granted by this notice. In addition, the FAA expects carriers to return scheduled operations in the peak delay periods of the day. The following hours (in local time) are the most prone to delay at each airport: EWR: 1400– 2159, JFK: 1300–2259, LGA: 1300–2159. The FAA will not reallocate the temporarily returned slots or approved operating timings at JFK, LGA, or EWR, as the goal is to reduce the total volume of operations in the New York City region. Carriers are encouraged to utilize their DCA slots in other markets before returning them to the FAA. In the event DCA slots are returned under this waiver, other carriers will have an opportunity to operate the slots on an ad hoc basis without historic precedence. The FAA will treat as used the specific slots returned in accordance with the conditions in this notice for the period from October 27, 2024, through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 30, 2025, through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025). The relief is subject to the following conditions: 1. The specific slots and approved operating timings must be returned to the FAA by August 15, 2024, for the Winter 2024/2025 scheduling season; and by January 15, 2025, for the Summer 2025 scheduling season. 2. This waiver applies only to slots that have corresponding, scheduled operations during the period of the grant. A carrier temporarily returning a slot or approved operating time to the FAA for relief under this waiver must identify corresponding scheduled operations for Winter 2024/2025, or approved slots or operating timings for Summer 2025. The FAA may validate information against published schedule data prior to the issuance of this notice, and other operational data maintained by FAA. Slots or operating times returned without an associated scheduled and canceled operation will not receive relief. 3. Slots or approved operating timings newly allocated for initial use since the previous corresponding scheduling season are not eligible for relief. 4. Slots authorized at DCA by Department of Transportation or FAA exemptions are not eligible for relief. 5. Carriers must not engage in unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive practices regarding their slot usage, leasing agreements, or operations associated with the relief provided by this notice. E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 89, No. 113 / Tuesday, June 11, 2024 / Notices Issued in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2024. Marc A. Nichols, Chief Counsel. Alyce Hood-Fleming, Vice President, System Operations Services. [FR Doc. 2024–12690 Filed 6–10–24; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0123; FMCSA– 2013–0125; FMCSA–2013–0126; FMCSA– 2014–0102; FMCSA–2014–0107; FMCSA– 2015–0327; FMCSA–2015–0328; FMCSA– 2015–0329; FMCSA–2017–0057; FMCSA– 2017–0059; FMCSA–2017–0060; FMCSA– 2018–0139; FMCSA–2019–0109; FMCSA– 2019–0110; FMCSA–2020–0024; FMCSA– 2020–0025; FMCSA–2022–0032; or FMCSA– 2022–0033] Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Hearing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of renewal of exemptions; request for comments. AGENCY: FMCSA announces its decision to renew exemptions for 34 individuals from the hearing requirement in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The exemptions enable these hard of hearing and deaf individuals to continue to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. DATES: Each group of renewed exemptions were applicable on the dates stated in the discussions below and will expire on the dates provided below. Comments must be received on or before July 11, 2024. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by the Federal Docket Management System Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0123, Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0125, Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0126, Docket No. FMCSA–2014–0102, Docket No. FMCSA–2014–0107, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0327, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0328, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0329, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0057, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0059, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0060, Docket No. FMCSA–2018–0139, Docket No. FMCSA–2019–0109, Docket No. FMCSA–2019–0110, Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0024, Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0025, Docket No. FMCSA–2022–0032, or Docket No. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Jun 10, 2024 Jkt 262001 FMCSA–2022–0033 using any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/, insert the docket number (FMCSA–2013–0123, FMCSA– 2013–0125, FMCSA–2013–0126, FMCSA–2014–0102, FMCSA–2014– 0107, FMCSA–2015–0327, FMCSA– 2015–0328, FMCSA–2015–0329, FMCSA–2017–0057, FMCSA–2017– 0059, FMCSA–2017–0060, FMCSA– 2018–0139, FMCSA–2019–0109, FMCSA–2019–0110, FMCSA–2020– 0024, FMCSA–2020–0025, FMCSA– 2022–0032, or FMCSA–2022–0033) in the keyword box and click ‘‘Search.’’ Next, sort the results by ‘‘Posted (Newer-Older),’’ choose the first notice listed, and click on the ‘‘Comment’’ button. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Dockets Operations; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590– 0001. • Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590–0001, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Fax: (202) 493–2251. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the ‘‘Public Participation’’ portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for instructions on submitting comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Christine A. Hydock, Chief, Medical Programs Division, FMCSA, DOT, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64–224, Washington, DC 20590–0001, (202) 366– 4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Dockets Operations, (202) 366– 9826. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Public Participation A. Submitting Comments If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this notice (Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0123, Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0125, Docket No. FMCSA–2013–0126, Docket No. FMCSA–2014–0102, Docket No. FMCSA–2014–0107, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0327, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0328, Docket No. FMCSA–2015–0329, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0057, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0059, Docket No. FMCSA–2017–0060, Docket No. FMCSA–2018–0139, Docket No. PO 00000 Frm 00115 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 49259 FMCSA–2019–0109, Docket No. FMCSA–2019–0110, Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0024, Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0025, Docket No. FMCSA–2022–0032, or Docket No. FMCSA–2022–0033), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your document so that FMCSA can contact you if there are questions regarding your submission. To submit your comment online, go to www.regulations.gov/, insert the docket number (FMCSA–2013–0123, FMCSA– 2013–0125, FMCSA–2013–0126, FMCSA–2014–0102, FMCSA–2014– 0107, FMCSA–2015–0327, FMCSA– 2015–0328, FMCSA–2015–0329, FMCSA–2017–0057, FMCSA–2017– 0059, FMCSA–2017–0060, FMCSA– 2018–0139, FMCSA–2019–0109, FMCSA–2019–0110, FMCSA–2020– 0024, FMCSA–2020–0025, FMCSA– 2022–0032, or FMCSA–2022–0033) in the keyword box and click ‘‘Search.’’ Next, sort the results by ‘‘Posted (Newer-Older),’’ choose the first notice listed, click the ‘‘Comment’’ button, and type your comment into the text box on the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81⁄2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. FMCSA will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. B. Viewing Comments To view comments go to www.regulations.gov. Insert the docket number (FMCSA–2013–0123, FMCSA– 2013–0125, FMCSA–2013–0126, FMCSA–2014–0102, FMCSA–2014– 0107, FMCSA–2015–0327, FMCSA– 2015–0328, FMCSA–2015–0329, FMCSA–2017–0057, FMCSA–2017– 0059, FMCSA–2017–0060, FMCSA– 2018–0139, FMCSA–2019–0109, FMCSA–2019–0110, FMCSA–2020– 0024, FMCSA–2020–0025, FMCSA– 2022–0032, or FMCSA–2022–0033) in the keyword box and click ‘‘Search.’’ Next, sort the results by ‘‘Posted (Newer-Older),’’ choose the first notice listed, and click ‘‘Browse Comments.’’ If you do not have access to the internet, you may view the docket online by E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 89, Number 113 (Tuesday, June 11, 2024)]
[Notices]
[Pages 49256-49259]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2024-12690]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration


Staffing-Related Relief Concerning Operations at Ronald Reagan 
Washington National Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, 
LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport, October 
27, 2024, Through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 30, 2025, 
Through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025)

AGENCY: Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration 
(FAA).

ACTION: Extension to limited waiver of the slot usage requirement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This action extends the Staffing-Related Relief Concerning 
Operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, John F. 
Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty 
International Airport, published on September 20, 2023, from October 
27, 2024, through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 30, 2025, 
through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025). The limited waiver remains 
effective until October 25, 2025, and does not apply to any slots 
granted by the Department of Transportation pursuant to section 505 of 
the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024.

DATES: This action is applicable on October 27, 2024.

ADDRESSES: Requests may be submitted by mail to Slot Administration 
Office, System Operations Services, AJR-0, Room 300W, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591, or by email to: [email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Al Meilus, Slot Administration and 
Capacity Analysis, FAA ATO System Operations Services, AJR-G5, Federal 
Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 
20591; telephone (202) 267-2822; email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility (N90) 
currently provides Air Traffic Control (ATC) services to overhead 
flights in the Northeast corridor and to the New York City area 
airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), 
LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport 
(EWR). The airspace complexity resulting from the close proximity of 
the major commercial airports serving the New York City region is a 
significant contributing factor to delays at JFK, LGA, and EWR. Against 
this challenging backdrop, N90 continues to face staffing shortfalls 
that are impacting ATC's ability to efficiently manage the volume of 
air traffic in this congested airspace despite best efforts to resolve 
staffing shortfalls.
    The FAA has made significant changes to increase N90 staffing 
through a combination of incentive and training programs, as well as by 
relocating control of the EWR area from N90 to the Philadelphia 
Terminal Radar Approach Control (PHL) beginning in late July of this 
year to relieve N90 staffing pressures. The FAA has determined N90 will 
need to reach at least 70% of its targeted number of onboard Certified 
Professional Controllers (CPCs) before ATC can efficiently manage the 
full capacity of the New York airspace that was in place prior to May 
15, 2023. The operational impact of changes to address N90 staffing 
shortages will not be realized immediately but do chart a path to 
mitigating the impact in the next 18-24 months.
    The targeted staffing number at N90 is 226 CPCs; the current CPC 
onboard number at N90 is 135 (59.7% staffed). CPCs at N90 presently are 
divided between five different areas: EWR, Long Island MacArthur 
Airport (ISP), JFK, LGA and the Liberty area. The N90 EWR area 
currently has 33 CPCs; 24 of the 33 EWR area CPCs will be transferred 
to PHL in July, the remaining 9 EWR CPCs will be reassigned to the 
other remaining areas in N90. Transferring control of the EWR area to 
PHL and adding 9 CPCs to the remaining N90 areas will result in an 
estimated staffing level of 68% of the targeted number of onboard CPCs 
at the areas remaining in N90 by the end of 2025. Control of EWR area 
will remain at PHL; however, of the 24 CPCs transferred to PHL, 18 are 
planned to return to N90 at the end of July 2026 and will be 
redistributed to the remaining N90 areas. The FAA estimates that the 
collective redistribution of 27 former EWR CPCs to the other areas of 
N90, along with the removal of EWR area servicing responsibilities, 
should result in N90 exceeding the 70% mark by the conclusion of 2026. 
At PHL, actions are currently underway to start CPC trainees to service 
the EWR area and replace the 18 EWR area CPCs that will return to N90 
at the end of July 2026. Unlike N90, there is a robust pipeline of 
experienced controllers interested in transferring to PHL. This 
pipeline of personnel will allow the FAA to build up CPC staffing for 
the EWR area at PHL more quickly than has been experienced at N90. 
Regardless, the FAA will continue to invest in staffing at N90 to meet 
anticipated future needs.
    With ever-growing demand for air travel in the New York City 
region, additional measures are necessary to ensure the FAA is able to 
provide expeditious services to aircraft operators and their passengers 
that traverse this airspace. Early discussions with carriers indicate 
an interest in increasing operations after October 27, 2024, through 
most of the Winter 2024/2025 scheduling season and for all of the 
Summer 2025 scheduling season. This being the case, the FAA expects 
increased delays and cancellations in the New York region to exceed 
those experienced over Summer 2022 and Winter 2022/2023 \1\ if a waiver 
similar to

[[Page 49257]]

the one that has been in effect for the Summer 2023, Winter 2023/2024, 
and Summer 2024 season is not in place for the Winter 2024/2025 and 
Summer 2025 scheduling season to allow carriers to reduce schedules 
without penalties for non-use of slots or previously approved operating 
times. Reducing schedules will improve the alignment between scheduled 
operations and actual operations, will help prevent unnecessary delays, 
will help optimize the efficient use of the airports' resources, and 
will help deliver passengers to their destinations more reliably and on 
time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Refer to ``Analysis'' section for delay analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Summary of Petitions Received

    On April 3, 2024, Airlines for America (A4A) submitted a petition 
of behalf of its member carriers \2\ requesting an extension of the 
current relief provided by FAA due to post-pandemic effects on ATC 
staffing at N90 through the end of the Summer 2025 season. A4A asserts 
that the current slot waiver successfully created a better travel 
experience for consumers and that the underlying conditions creating 
the need for a waiver still exist as staffing shortages persist. In 
addition, A4A requests that FAA restore carriers' ability to request 
retroactive relief if the impacts of controller staffing shortages are 
even more severe than anticipated and that the FAA not reallocate 
returned slots for ad-hoc use during the waiver period. Finally, A4A 
requests that FAA make a timely decision regarding relief as time is 
needed to give carriers stability and the ability to plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ A4A members are Alaska Air Group, Inc.; American Airlines 
Group, Inc.; Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.; Delta Air Lines, 
Inc.; FedEx Corp.; Hawaiian Airlines; JetBlue Airways Corp.; 
Southwest Airlines Co.; United Airlines Holdings, Inc.; and United 
Parcel Service Co. Air Canada is an associate member. Alaska 
Airlines did not join in the submission of A4A's letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On April 5, 2024, the International Air Transport Association 
(IATA) submitted a petition on behalf of its member carriers \3\ in 
support of A4A's request for an extension of the current slot relief 
through the end of the Summer 2025 season and other relief to protect 
the traveling public from operational disruptions. IATA asserts that 
the current relief allowed for careful planning by airlines and 
resulted in a notably better travel experience for consumers. IATA 
requests that FAA grant this relief by May 1, 2024, so that carriers 
can make the complex aircraft and human capital decisions necessary to 
serve the flying public.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ IATA is the trade association of the world's airlines, 
comprising some 320 member airlines in more than 120 countries and 
representing approximately 83 percent of the world's total air 
traffic.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On April 19, 2024, the Airports Council International of North 
America (ACI-NA) submitted a petition on behalf of its member airports 
\4\ opposing A4A's request for an extension of the current slot relief. 
ACI-NA asserts that there is no proven correlation between the slot 
relief and ATC capacity shortage and that slot usage waivers in general 
only serve to protect market access for incumbents. It seeks 
information surrounding and supporting the decision to grant slot 
relief for impacted New York airports and requests the FAA to provide 
an opportunity to the public to comment on A4A's request for relief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ ACI-NA is an organization representing local, regional, and 
state governing bodies that own and operate more than 300 airports 
operating in the United States; and nearly 400 aviation-related 
businesses. The ACI-NA Slot Task Force comprises all Level 2 and 
Level 3 airports in the United States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Standard

    At JFK and LGA, slot-holding carriers must use each assigned slot 
at least 80 percent of the time.\5\ The FAA will withdraw slots not 
meeting the minimum usage requirements. The FAA may waive the 80 
percent usage requirement in the event of a highly unusual and 
unpredictable condition that is beyond the control of the slot-holding 
air carrier, and which affects carrier operations for a period of five 
consecutive days or more.\6\
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    \5\ Operating Limitations at John F. Kennedy International 
Airport, 89 FR 41486 (May 13, 2024); Operating Limitations at New 
York LaGuardia Airport, 89 FR 41484 (May 13, 2024).
    \6\ At JFK, the FAA will determine historical rights to 
operating authorizations and withdrawal of those rights due to 
insufficient usage on a seasonal basis and in accordance with the 
schedule approved by the FAA prior to the commencement of the 
applicable season. See JFK Order, 89 FR at 41488. At LGA, the FAA 
will withdraw any operating authorization not used at least 80 
percent of the time over a two-month period. See LGA Order, 89 FR at 
41485.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), the FAA also 
will recall any slot not used at least 80 percent of the time over a 
two-month period.\7\ The FAA may waive this minimum usage requirement 
in the event of a highly unusual and unpredictable condition that is 
beyond the control of the slot-holding carrier, and which exists for a 
period of nine or more days.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ See 14 CFR 93.227(a).
    \8\ See 14 CFR 93.227(j).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In determining historical rights to allocated slots, including 
whether to grant a waiver of the usage requirement, the FAA seeks to 
ensure the efficient use of valuable aviation infrastructure and 
maximize the benefits to both airport users and the traveling public. 
The minimum usage requirement is expected to accommodate routine 
cancellations under all but the most unusual circumstances. Carriers 
proceed at their own risk if they make scheduling decisions in 
anticipation of the FAA granting a slot usage waiver.

Analysis

    The number of certified controllers at N90 is still not sufficient 
to allow the FAA to handle normal traffic levels. The FAA has worked 
with NATCA on a long-term solution to solve thechronic low levels of 
fully certified air traffic controllers at that facility through a 
combination of incentive and training programs, as well as relocating 
control of the EWR area to PHL. The FAA will continue to partner with 
NATCA as it continues efforts to remediate ATC staffing shortages at 
N90.
    Due to the volume of originating and destination flights in the New 
York City region, as well as the interdependency and complexity of the 
airspace surrounding JFK, LGA, and EWR, delays caused in part by N90 
staffing shortfalls are expected to significantly impact carriers' 
ability to operate and meet minimum usage requirements in the Winter 
2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons. Absent increased 
flexibility, the FAA anticipates a high likelihood of congestion, 
delay, and cancellations at JFK, LGA, and EWR.
    Typically, the 20 percent non-utilization allowed under the minimum 
usage requirement accounts for cancellations due to ATC staffing 
delays; however, the extent of N90 staffing shortfalls and the expected 
numbers of scheduled operations for the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 
2025 scheduling seasons present a highly unusual and unpredictable 
condition beyond the control of carriers that will impact operations 
through the entire Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons.
    Using the Annual Service Volume (ASV) model,\9\ the FAA projected 
the delay the NYC airports would experience in the absence of a waiver 
for Summer 2024.\10\ Using Summer

[[Page 49258]]

2022 data \11\ as baseline comparison, the FAA estimates Summer 2024 
would experience increased operations by 8.8% to 11%,\12\ which would 
result in 2.3 to 2.8 million minutes of additional delay, or 53% to 65% 
additional delay, compared to the delay experienced in Summer 2022. At 
a minimum, the FAA expects these delay numbers to remain valid through 
Summer 2025.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ FAA-developed modeling suite of tools for conducting 
operational impact analysis for airports and to establish the annual 
service volume for airports. ASV simulations relate total annual 
operations to a target delay value and are used by FAA in reports to 
Congress that identify the airports projected to constrain the NAS. 
See https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/systemops/perf_analysis/sim_tools.
    \10\ The FAA projected a Summer 2024 scenario because the FAA 
has already received the air carrier schedules for the Summer 2024 
scheduling season, and demand is not likely to decrease in 2025.
    \11\ Summer 2022 data is used as baseline for comparison because 
this was the last summer scheduling season unaffected by the ATC 
waivers.
    \12\ Under the current waiver, carriers returned 9% of their 
initially submitted schedules. Compared to Summer 2023, scheduled 
operations in Summer 2024 increased by 2%. If the FAA assumes an 80% 
actual usage rate, that results in 8.8% (that is, ((0.09 + 0.02) x 
0.8 = 0.088) increase of actual operations. If the FAA assumes 100% 
actual usage rate, then that would be an 11% (0.09 + 0.02) increase.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Therefore, a waiver of minimum slot usage requirements at JFK and 
LGA, and a similar policy of prioritizing returned operations at EWR, 
through October 25, 2025, is necessary to allow carriers to reduce 
operations to enable scheduling and operational stability for the 
benefit of the flying public.
    In addition, because New York City-DCA is a high-frequency market 
for multiple carriers, the FAA recognizes this market is a likely 
target for carriers to consolidate flights while retaining their 
network connectivity. If carriers choose to reduce their schedules in 
the New York City-DCA market, the FAA encourages, to the extent 
practical, carriers to utilize their DCA slots to operate to other 
destinations. However, if carriers choose not to utilize their DCA 
slots elsewhere, the FAA may consider providing relief to DCA slots 
that are impacted by the reduction in operations at the New York City 
airports, except that the limited waiver of the minimum slot usage 
requirements is not available for any slots granted by the DOT pursuant 
to section 505 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 (Pub. L. 118-63)
    Carriers have the ability to request retroactive relief; however, 
they should be aware that the N90 staffing shortfalls will not likely 
form a sufficient basis for further relief going forward in the Winter 
2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling seasons because carriers will have 
had sufficient opportunity to plan and take remedial action under this 
waiver policy. The FAA does not foresee providing additional post-hoc 
relief associated with ATC staffing given the extraordinary relief 
provided here. Given this relief, operational impacts associated with 
N90 staffing during the Winter 2024/2025 and Summer 2025 scheduling 
season will likely not have been beyond carriers' control and will not 
serve as a justification for a separate waiver.

Decision

    The FAA determined that the post-pandemic effects on N90 staffing 
meet the applicable waiver standards and warrant a limited waiver of 
minimum slot usage requirements at JFK and LGA to allow carriers to 
return up to ten percent of their slots at each airport, as well as 
impacted operations between DCA and the New York City airports. In 
addition, the FAA has determined the post-pandemic effects on N90 
staffing warrant a limited policy for prioritizing returned operations 
at EWR to allow carriers to return up to ten percent of their approved 
operating timings, for purposes of establishing a carrier's operational 
baseline in the next corresponding season. Despite staffing projections 
indicating N90 will not reach 70% of the targeted staffing level until 
the conclusion of 2026, the FAA is taking a measured approach and 
providing relief in this waiver notice only until the end of the Summer 
2025 scheduling season. The FAA will re-evaluate the staffing levels at 
N90 and the impact to operations in the New York City area before 
deciding if a waiver beyond the Summer 2025 scheduling season is 
necessary. Carriers seeking to return their slots and approved 
operating timings must do so by August 15, 2024, for the Winter 2024/
2025 scheduling season (October 27, 2024, through March 29, 2025); and 
by January 15, 2025, for the Summer 2025 scheduling season (March 30, 
2025, through October 25, 2025) to be eligible for relief under this 
waiver. For DCA, this relief is available only for flights impacted by 
operations to or from the New York City area airports. If carriers 
utilizing the relief provided under this limited waiver at EWR 
subsequently operate unapproved flights at that airport, those carriers 
will forfeit their scheduling preference to an equal number of 
returned, approved operating timings chosen at the FAA's discretion for 
the subsequent equivalent traffic season. Furthermore, the FAA expects 
carriers to up-gauge aircraft serving the affected airports to the 
extent possible to maintain passenger throughput and minimize the 
impact on consumers. The FAA also expects carriers to maintain 
connections between the affected airports and regional airports to the 
extent possible in support of continuous scheduled interstate air 
transportation for small communities and isolated areas. The FAA will 
closely coordinate with the Department of Transportation, which will be 
monitoring for indications of unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive 
practices or other unlawful economic activity associated with or 
resulting from the relief granted by this notice. In addition, the FAA 
expects carriers to return scheduled operations in the peak delay 
periods of the day. The following hours (in local time) are the most 
prone to delay at each airport: EWR: 1400-2159, JFK: 1300-2259, LGA: 
1300-2159.
    The FAA will not reallocate the temporarily returned slots or 
approved operating timings at JFK, LGA, or EWR, as the goal is to 
reduce the total volume of operations in the New York City region. 
Carriers are encouraged to utilize their DCA slots in other markets 
before returning them to the FAA. In the event DCA slots are returned 
under this waiver, other carriers will have an opportunity to operate 
the slots on an ad hoc basis without historic precedence.
    The FAA will treat as used the specific slots returned in 
accordance with the conditions in this notice for the period from 
October 27, 2024, through March 29, 2025 (Winter 2024/2025) and March 
30, 2025, through October 25, 2025 (Summer 2025).
    The relief is subject to the following conditions:
    1. The specific slots and approved operating timings must be 
returned to the FAA by August 15, 2024, for the Winter 2024/2025 
scheduling season; and by January 15, 2025, for the Summer 2025 
scheduling season.
    2. This waiver applies only to slots that have corresponding, 
scheduled operations during the period of the grant. A carrier 
temporarily returning a slot or approved operating time to the FAA for 
relief under this waiver must identify corresponding scheduled 
operations for Winter 2024/2025, or approved slots or operating timings 
for Summer 2025. The FAA may validate information against published 
schedule data prior to the issuance of this notice, and other 
operational data maintained by FAA. Slots or operating times returned 
without an associated scheduled and canceled operation will not receive 
relief.
    3. Slots or approved operating timings newly allocated for initial 
use since the previous corresponding scheduling season are not eligible 
for relief.
    4. Slots authorized at DCA by Department of Transportation or FAA 
exemptions are not eligible for relief.
    5. Carriers must not engage in unfair, deceptive, or 
anticompetitive practices regarding their slot usage, leasing 
agreements, or operations associated with the relief provided by this 
notice.


[[Page 49259]]


    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2024.
Marc A. Nichols,
Chief Counsel.
Alyce Hood-Fleming,
Vice President, System Operations Services.
[FR Doc. 2024-12690 Filed 6-10-24; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P


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