The federal Aviation AdministrationFAA said Monday that it has activated 169 more direct routes along the East Coast to boost safety and prevent delays during the busy summer travel season.
The new routes will cut down on 40,000 miles of travel time annually from being shorter in distance. This will help prevent delays by giving the agency more authority to direct traffic to specific routes based on the aircraft's destination, the FAA said.
The expansion of the additional routes will provide Air Traffic Controllers with more flexibility during bad weather. The FAA said it will also create fewer converging points which will enhance safety.
The upgrade, which will reduce complexity and redistribute volume across the national airspace system, comes just in time for summer and will help travelers get to their destinations more efficiently, said Tim Arel, chief operating officer of the FAA.
This is welcome news at a time when the FAA is trying to tackle staffing shortages ahead of the busy travel season.
Several airlines, including JetBlue, agreed to lower schedules in New York this summer to the FAA, which has a severe shortage of controllers at a key facility on Long Island.
In a conversation at the Economic Club of New York in New York City in March, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said that staffing at the air traffic control facility that handles all inbound, outbound and through traffic across New York airspace is only at 54% of what is needed. This is compared to the national average of 81%, he said.
While it continues to reduce the air traffic controller training backlog at many FAA air traffic facilities, staffing levels at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control N 90 remain below targets. The agency said it is taking several steps to make air travel to and from New York City safe and smooth this summer.