The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a stay of the slot auctions that were scheduled to take place on January 12, 2009, pending arguments on whether the FAA has the legal authority to auction the slots.

Although the court’s order does not go into any details as to why it is granting the Motion for Stay beyond stating that the Petitioners "have satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending court review," this is a significant victory for the Petitioners.  First, in order to obtain a stay one must show, among other things, "irreparable injury" and "likelihood of success on the merits."  This standard is a high one that is rarely surmounted.  Thus, it is an indication that the court is looking favorably upon the Petitioners’ case.

Second, it pushes the date for the first slot auctions beyond the change of administrations.  The opponents of the slot auctions fervently hope that the Obama Administration will be more receptive to their pleas that slots auctions will not solve the problems at the New York/New Jersey airports.  With the change of administrations, there is hope among the opponents of the slot auctions that "a new, workable plan to reduce flight delays and give New York’s airspace and airports the upgrade they need and deserve."

Petitioners’ statements regarding the court’s ruling:

Neither the Department of Transportation nor the FAA have any press release or statement on their websites regarding the court’s ruling.  However, the wire services and newspapers are reporting that Sarah Echols, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, said:  "Today’s court decision is bad news for travelers seeking a better flying experience in and out of the New York region.  We are committed to our goal of protecting travelers, giving passengers more options and improving the air travel experience, and will continue to assess our options to provide relief."

Previous blog posts regarding slot auctions:

Other news articles: