FAA said it is preparing for a busy Thanksgiving holiday travel week by working with the Defense Department to clear the way for commercial aircraft to fly in airspace normally reserved for the military.
Air traffic controllers may begin routing commercial aircraft through the restricted airspace at 6 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 23, a day earlier than in previous years. The use of restricted airspace will end at 6 a.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 29. The busiest travel days are expected to be Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, FAA said.
Under the agreement, DOD will release airspace off the east coast above 24,000 feet. The added capacity is expected to ease delays during one of the busiest travel periods of the year, saving time and money for passengers and airlines while reducing fuel burn.
FAA has developed dedicated routes off the east coast to allow airlines to plan their flights through the normally restricted airspace. Normal inland routes will still be available. Weather permitting, the combination of both sets of routes is expected to ease congestion, according to the agency.
DOD also is allowing commercial flights to use restricted airspace in other parts of the country. These include:
• Airspace over the Gulf of Mexico to ease congestion for commercial aircraft flying between Florida and the Louisiana and Texas areas, as well as points beyond.
• Airspace over Twentynine Palms in California to ease congestion for commercial aircraft flying to and from markets in Southern California.
• Airspace over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to allow for more direct routings for aircraft flying over the Southwest.