Stay of airport auction
Our client, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority) operates LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. As anyone who has traveled through these airports can attest, each is highly congested. In an attempt to reduce airline congestion, the FAA has limited airline traffic at these airports by creating slots—the right to take off or land within a 30-minute window. An airline wishing to serve LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark cannot do so unless it has a slot giving it permission to land or take off.
In early October, the FAA published two final rules that provided for the FAA to auction slots at each of those airports on or about January 13, 2009. The FAA would sell leases for slots to the highest bidder, take the proceeds, and leave it to the Port Authority (and the airlines) to accommodate the changes resulting from the auctions. Our attorneys filed a motion to stay the FAA’s planned slot auction (the airline trade association and Continental filed follow-on motions to stay). Following briefing over a three-week period, on Monday, December 8, 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit granted the Port Authority’s request and stayed the auctions pending further order of the court, finding that the Port Authority and other petitioners had met “the stringent standards required” for the relief sought.
In response to the stay, the Port Authority issued the following press statement:
“The Port Authority applauds today’s decision halting the Bush Administration’s 11th-hour plan to auction existing landing and take-off slots at the New York metropolitan airports to the highest bidder, which would invariably drive up ticket prices for passengers for the same service without alleviating delays. We are confident that upon full review, the court will agree that the Administration does not have the authority to conduct an auction, and we look forward to working with the next Administration to develop real, long-term solutions to improve air travel.”