The Politics Of Airline Travel

Passengers wait to check in at Northwest Airlines at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich., Wednesday, June 27, 2007, after what may have been cancellations caused by labor problems. AP

After a summer of misery for air travelers, Congress said Wednesday it is ready to take action, outlining new measures to relieve congestion, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

New York's John F. Kennedy airport is one of the largest airports in the country where 57 flights an hour are scheduled on a typical morning. However, the runways can only handle about 44, on a good day.

"The airport's making its money off of landing fees and take off fees and gate fees." says Peter Goelz, an aviation industry expert.

This deliberate overscheduling at JFK and other airports had members of Congress fighting mad.

"We're scheduling more planes to take off and land that can physically take off and land. We're allowing this to go forward we're saying the market will control it," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "The market doesn't control it."

The nation's seven busiest airports now account for 72 percent of the nation's flight delays.

The government has imposed scheduling caps before. They're in place now at congested airports like New York's LaGuardia and Chicago's O'Hare. But the new acting FAA administrator said that would be a last resort.

This left members of Congress wondering what the administration was planning to do instead.

The government may give the airlines a chance to work it out on their own first. But they're all interested in adding flights, not taking them away.
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