The GA Traffic Jam

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Isolated To Palm Beach...

As air traffic volumes -- both GA and commercial -- rebound, we can't help but wonder if Sunday afternoons at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) are a harbinger of things to come, particularly if the air taxi business takes off the way some predict it will. The FAA now routinely cuts arrivals at PBI by one-third on Sunday afternoons so that weekend visitors to the tourist area can get out. FAA spokesman Christopher White told AVweb that most of those flying into PBI in private aircraft (up to 400 each winter weekend) want to be back at their desks on Monday morning. "The problem is they arrive over a period of one or two days but they all want to leave on Sunday afternoon," White said. Until the new procedures were put in place, delays of up to three hours plagued both commercial and private departures on Sunday afternoons. But White said the burden was disproportionately borne by departing aircraft so the decision was made to reduce arrivals from 36 per hour to 24 per hour when there's a lineup of planes wanting to leave. He said there are no set hours for the arrival restrictions and they are only imposed as needed (which may make planning a timely arrival a bit challenging). The restrictions are usually in place anywhere between noon and 6 p.m. Anyone flying into Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon during tourist season should be ready for delays, he said.