The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Monday that it activated 169 more direct routes along the East Coast that will boost safety and help 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 capacity to direct traffic to specific routes based on the aircraft’s destination," the FAA said.
The additional routes will give air traffic controllers more flexibility during bad weather. It will also create fewer converging points which will enhance safety, the FAA said.
The upgrades, which will reduce complexity and redistribute volume across the national airspace system, come "just in time for summer and will help travelers get to their destinations more efficiently," Tim Arel, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, said.
This is welcome news at a time when the FAA is trying to combat staffing shortages ahead of the hectic travel season.
Several airlines, including JetBlue, agreed to reduce schedules in New York this summer at the request of the FAA, which has a severe shortage of controllers at a key facility on Long Island.
During a discussion at the Economic Club of New York in New York City in March, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said 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. That is compared to the national average of 81%, Hayes continued.
A Delta Air Lines flight, with the Washington Monument in the background, approaches to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on July 2, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
The FAA previously said that while it "continues to reduce the air traffic controller training backlog at many FAA air traffic facilities, staffing levels at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (N90) continue to be below targets."
The agency said it is taking "several steps to keep air travel to and from New York City this summer safe and smooth."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.