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Flight delays and cancellations have plagued the U.S. aviation system. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), more than one in four flights either arrived late or was canceled in 2007--making it one of the worst years for delays in the last decade. Delays and cancellations were particularly evident at certain airports, especially the three New York metropolitan commercial passenger airports--Newark Liberty International (Newark), John F. Kennedy International (JFK), and LaGuardia. To avoid a repeat of last summer's problems, DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have worked with the aviation industry over the past several months to develop and implement several actions to reduce congestion and delays for the summer 2008 travel season. This testimony addresses (1) the trends in the extent and principal sources of flight delays and cancellations over the last 10 years, (2) the status of federal government actions to reduce flight delays and cancellations, and (3) the extent to which these actions may reduce delays and cancellations for the summer 2008 travel season. This statement is based on an analysis of DOT data on airline on-time performance, a review of relevant documents and reports, and interviews with officials from DOT, FAA, airport operators, and airlines, as well as aviation industry experts and associations. DOT and FAA provided technical comments which were incorporated as appropriate.

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