Airline industry: Bush administration’s plan to auction off flight slots is not a very bright idea


WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are fighting the Bush administration’s plan to combat flight delays by experimenting with New York City airspace.

The federal Aviation Administration came under withering criticism Wednesday morning at a hearing about the agency’s plan to auction off some flight slots at New York’s three major airports.

Last year, U.S. airports saw near-record flight delays, and experts say backups at New York’s airports are responsible for between half and three-quarters of the entire nation’s delays.

Representatives for the airline industry said the auction plan — which has not been tried before at U.S. airports — will not work and will instead impose major new costs on them at a time their businesses are already struggling to cope with rising fuel prices.