FAA Extends Slot Waivers To Combat New York Controller Shortage


A continuing controller shortage at the New York TRACON has prompted the FAA to extend its relaxation of slot use requirements at the three main New York airports to Oct. 28, 2023. The agency announced the extension in a news release on Wednesday and it will allow airlines to reduce flight frequency without risking the loss of highly prized slots at La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports. “The agency continues to expect that airlines will operate larger aircraft to transport more passengers and make sure passengers are fully informed about any possible disruptions,” the news release said.

The slot waiver program was started last May to help the staff-short FAA handle the seasonal increase in air travel. The waivers were supposed to end on Sept. 15, but high demand is expected to continue through the early fall and the new date aligns with the ICAO’s definition of the end of the summer travel season. The program seems to have worked. By using bigger equipment on fewer flights, traffic has dropped by 6 percent but the number of passengers carried has gone up 2 percent. Meanwhile, the FAA says it’s addressing the staff shortage. “The FAA is working closely with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to implement a long-term solution to resolve ongoing low staffing levels at the New York TRACON.” 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I’m not sure what’s going on at NY TRACON. I bid on it twice and never heard a peep out of them, despite my record and experience at three busy TRACONs, including SoCal (Los Angeles).

  2. Other than John above, NY area had always been super hard to staff because, unless you are from that area, it seem no one else wants to live and work there. At one time past in my FAA life, FAA would only hire folks from that area to staff the facilities. Why? Because so many that did go work there wanted to leave quickly after getting a taste of it all. And during my ORD time we were way understaffed, and still is I guess. The FAA started a pay demonstration project that gave certain hard to staff facilities an extra 10% pay or something like that. I think that is long gone replaced by locality pay maybe based on cost of living. Maybe another pay project would help get controllers to bid the NY area. Or maybe something like that is still happening. Been a long time for me. But understaffing never changes. I hired into FAA ATC from the USAF 56 years ago, Los Angeles Center. They assigned me there why….because it was way understaffed.

  3. I had experience with this in a non-aviation world in my corporate career (35 billion dollar worldwide company). World HQ was in the midwest. Over time, corporate staff was more and more Canadian. Distressingly so. When I spoke to a Senior VP about it, he said they’d had terrible luck with anyone from the US who wasn’t local to HQ wanting to stay after one or two winters. Every time someone would rotate to a job in the Southern US, they would leave the company and go work for the local dealer they had been calling on. But he said the Canadians all came down and thought the Midwest weather was great and stayed for entire careers. I guess we don’t recruit Canadian controllers, eh?

  4. I wonder how many controllers were lost when the Covid experimental vaccine jab became a requirement in Sept. 2021 thru Biden’s Ex Order. FAA employees were told in early Oct. they could still be fired even though they were granted a valid exemption. Biden’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force was consistently changing their tune. The first deadline to receiving the experimental jab was Nov. 22nd. The date moved out at least a couple more time before the end of the year. Fortunately an injunction was eventually granted but many employees had already left or retired at the end of the year.

    • Counterpoint: I wonder how many controllers were saved when the life-saving Covid vaccine became available through the historic effort of scientists and health workers worldwide. See, two can play at this meaningless game.

      • 104 million Americans got Covid (with 1.1 million deaths), so little doubt in my mind some controllers were saved.