United States government officials have announced a proposal to extend temporary waivers for international minimum flight requirements at some of the busiest American airports through late October due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Reuters.com, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) previously passed flight slot requirements at several of the most congested U.S. airports to ensure international passenger air travel remained elevated, but COVID-19 forced the agency to issue waivers.
The FAA is now proposing an extension of the temporary waivers scheduled to expire this fall for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and two facilities in New York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
“Based on global vaccination rates, changing infection rates and the threat of new virus strains, continued unpredictability of travel restrictions, and the disparity between demand for domestic air travel and demand for international air travel, extending the current limited, conditional waiver for international operations by all carriers, is reasonable,” an FAA spokesperson told Reuters.
Government officials have also launched a temporary extension review process for other major airports in Chicago, New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Before the pandemic, the FAA required airlines to use international slots at least 80 percent of the time to maintain them.
International air travel was down 46 percent in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels, but the 61 million arrivals last year exceeded the 34 million registered in 2020. As a result, officials from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines submitted a joint proposal to extend the temporary international slot usage rules.