The Traffic Problem -- Not Just At O'Hare

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Airlines "Volunteer" To Shift Flights...

Last week's "voluntary" move by American and United Air Lines to cut peak-period flights into O'Hare was the only practical option left to temporarily solve the scheduling problems there. But it raises questions of how capacity problems will be addressed in the future and whether the FAA, and not pilots and operators, will decide who flies where and when. Although the "agreement" reached on Wednesday was described as the result of a negotiated process, the FAA left little doubt in anyone's mind that it would impose flight caps if the airlines didn't "volunteer." United and American have shifted a total of 37 flights (United 20, American 17) to less-congested time periods either before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m., meaning less availability when customers actually want to fly. The scheduling mess has also limited access to O'Hare by budget airlines, which some say makes it more expensive, on average, to fly there.