Unsnarling the Crowded Skies

Under prodding, airlines try to ease flight traffic

As millions of airline passengers have discovered to their sorrow, the terms rush hour and gridlock no longer apply only to travel by car. This summer, teeth-grinding, stomach-wrenching waits at major airports have become distressingly common. The aggravation reached a new and irritating high last month, as flight delays increased 276% over a year ago, to 44,372. Nearly one in ten airline trips was more than 15 minutes late.

Fewer air traffic controllers, more flights, a shortage of runways and gates, and summer storms have all been blamed for the crunch. But according to the...

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