Summer Flight Delays Solved: FAA Fixes Air Travel’s Biggest Challenge By Moving Newark to Philadelphia

Passengers have faced delays and cancellations because the FAA hasn’t had enough air traffic controllers. The government even asked airlines to reduce flying in and out of New York airports, because that’s where staffing problems were most acute.

  • That keeps airfares high by limiting supply
  • And it keeps new competitors out

While the FAA’s air traffic organization has made progress on staffing in much of the country, the problem remains greatest in New York. Part of the reason that New York TRACON is tough to staff is that the FAA doesn’t pay enough of a premium to work in New York. But reportedly the facility simply does not accept new controllers, which preserves overtime.

Given the persistent challenges at the FAA’s N90 facility, the FAA had a solution: move Newark approach-control to the Philadelphia facility. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had been blocking this on behalf of the air traffic controllers union.

However, the FAA has reached an agreement with the union to move Newark approach to Philadelphia. That frees up the workload at New York TRACON, so that they will no longer be as understaffed. It’s not yet clear what they gave up to get this agreement.

The FAA, which has struggled with air traffic staffing issues, said it and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) signed a memorandum to relocate control of Newark at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) (N90) to Philadelphia Tower/TRACON by the end of June.

With penalties for failing to use New York slots waived through October, and less New York TRACON staffing pressure come summer, there should be fewer air traffic control delays in the area.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. […] The airlines are again asking to be able to keep slots at congested airports without having to use them (fly) which limits supply and drives up price. As justification, they cite decades-long air traffic control staffing issues at New York TRACON, ironically right as the FAA has finally reached a deal with the controllers union that will allow it to solve those staf…. […]


  1. Special interests make convoluted problems out of nothing, and as long as it’s a left-leaning special interest, we’re supposed to pretend that it’s cute.

  2. “That frees up the workload at New York TRACON, so that they will no longer be as overstaffed.”

    Shouldn’t that be understaffed?

  3. since PHL is not as busy as it once was due to AA’s southern shift, it doesn’t hurt to shift ATC responsibilities for EWR to better staff NYC.

    To no surprise, labor objects and their big Blue handlers are against doing what is best for America.

  4. It’s been in the works for the past few years, but the politicians and union got involved and it was supposedly put on hold. First they asked for volunteers, but nobody bit. Next, they tried to force relocation, but the union put a stop to it. Now, they’re offering incentives (bonuses, pay raises to both facilities, keeping the same staffing levels, etc.). From what I hear, they won’t have that many volunteers even with the new incentives. Not to mention that it’s an incredibly stupid move. It will just make the region’s airspace more complex. It’s often easier to be in the same building and coordinate traffic rather than 100s of miles away. Safety was the reason why all approach controls were put into the same space, now they’re splitting it up. This is going to mess things up even more…

  5. The EWR sector at N90 has never had better training results than it currently does, had ZERO reported delays last summer due to staffing, is overstaffed according to the arbitrary benchmarks the FAA set just a few years ago for it, and yet for some reason, the FAA continues to try to push this very stupid idea along.

    The FAA and NATCA also did not come to “an agreement” to move the sector. The union is still against the move, and continues to work channels to prevent this move. The signed MOU is NATCA carrying out their legal responsibility to negotiate the terms of the FAA’s change in working conditions for these controllers. The controllers still have to sign up, and not enough of them will.

    The fact that you said N90 “reportedly” doesn’t accept new controllers because of overtime proves that you have no idea what you’re talking about, though. Why waste time being correct when you can just spread idiotic Reddit talking points

Comments are closed.