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Flight caps plan set at O’Hare

United Airlines and American Airlines are offering to support temporary flight caps at O’Hare International Airport, but they want other carriers also to make schedule cuts to ease delays.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Transportation has developed a temporary flight-reduction agreement for O’Hare International Airport, according to a published report.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines declined to comment on the deal, but a federal official said the plan will be “proportionate and equitable” to all of the airport’s carriers, the Chicago Tribune reported in Wednesday’s editions.

Sixteen airlines participated in three days of negotiations in Washington earlier this month held by the FAA. Agency officials have been trying to ease persistent delays at O’Hare that they say hamper the nation’s entire air system.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta had said the meeting was the last opportunity for airlines to voluntarily solve O’Hare’s gridlock before the government would impose strict flight caps.

United Airlines and American Airlines, which handle 88 percent of all flights at the Chicago airport, had offered to support temporary flight caps, but they wanted other carriers also to make schedule cuts, according to documents released Monday.

Officials from United and American did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press. An FAA spokeswoman said she could not confirm the plan.

In January, Mineta, American and United announced a voluntary reduction in daily flight schedules by 5 percent between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., the peak time for departures and arrivals.

The airport continued to rank at the bottom nationally in on-time performance, forcing an extra 2 1/2 percent reduction, which took effect in June. The total came to about 90 fewer flights a day for the two airlines.

About two-thirds of arrivals at O’Hare have been on-time this year, compared with the 82 percent systemwide goal the FAA sets.