FAA Grants Delta Temporary Slot Waivers In New York, Washington

The decision will allow the airline to cut certain flights from three airports while maintaining slot usage rights.

Credit: Joe Pries

Delta Air Lines has been granted a temporary slot waiver to reduce some flights at New York John F Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA), as well as Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA).

The carrier asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to treat canceled movements at these airports as if they had been flown, citing circumstances that were “unforeseen, highly unusual, and unpredictable conditions that are beyond its control.”

It highlighted issues including New York airport construction, pilot and flight attendant sick time, severe weather and air traffic control delays and cancellations. Delta said its pilots missed 13,748 days due to sickness compared in June 2022—a 50% increase compared with June 2019.

After reviewing the request, the FAA said it would waive the minimum slot usage requirements for specific scheduled flights at JFK and LGA, as well as certain nonstop DCA operations to and from JFK or LGA. The relief covers June 1 through Sept. 5.

“FAA believes it is appropriate to provide relief to afford opportunities for Delta to make schedule adjustments or reductions and to adjust resources and staff assignments as appropriate at these key airports,” the agency said.

It added the relief should provide Delta sufficient time to manage current operational challenges, while adjusting network resources to reliably use its allocated slots in the future.

However, the FAA said it was concerned that the partial grant of Delta’s request could lead to close-in cancellation of summer travel plans for many consumers at a time where limited availability exists on alternative flights.

It has therefore requested that Delta makes “efforts to avoid disruptions for consumers” by offering them a refund or flights with another carrier for canceled services at JFK, LGA, and DCA covered by the slot waiver.