Though most effects of some 60,000 flights delayed in the first half of 2004 hit passengers, commercial airlines – particularly United and American at O’Hare – carry volumes of belly cargo, as well. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey had discussed the possibility of auctioning off landing spots at the busy airport and setting higher landing fees for smaller-sized aircraft to make room for larger planes carrying more passengers.
To go into effect on November 1 and end on April 1, 2005, the agreement means that the two airlines will cut arriving flights at the nation’s busiest airport between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm – United will cut 20 arrivals, American, 17. Both airlines look to other carriers serving O’Hare to cut their flights, as well.
The two airlines are hardly being singled out. Between them, they account for 86% of all takeoffs and landings at O’Hare. The agreement is expected to reduce delays at the airport by 20%, resulting in improvements in air service throughout the country.