Winter Snowbird Traffic and VACAPES Airspace

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Thanksgiving Holiday Air Traffic Management Plans Released Between the Northeast, Florida

Nov. 12, 2015

Operators can expect extensive traffic flow management strategies during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday week between Florida and the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) advisories website will provide up to the minute information on operational requirements. View the advisories website.

As a part of the ATCSCC strategy, operators can expect a significant number of required reroutes to be implemented. When the exact routes have been finalized, they will be published via advisory and also on the FAA's current reroutes website. View the current reroutes website.

East Coast Military Airspace Released for Thanksgiving Holiday Routes

The U.S. military will again be opening portions of the VACAPES airspace off the mid-Atlantic coast to civilian air traffic, expanding the amount of airspace available along the East Coast, particularly in the Jacksonville, FL and Washington, DC centers. Portions of this military airspace should be available from Nov. 24 to 30, with Nov. 25 and 29 expected to be the highest volume days. Operators are urged to file the routes as published in the advisories, and ensure that they meet the equipment requirements specified in FAA regulations for their operations.

View the Holiday Airspace Release Plan Thanksgiving 2015 Airspace Request List.

Dynamic Holiday Routes

There are several sets of routes expected to be in use during the 2015 holiday travel period. Operators traveling between the Northeast and Florida are strongly encouraged to be familiar with, and utilize, the routes, which will be outlined daily on the FAA current reroutes website.

  • Required and recommended routes will dynamically change daily depending upon which military airspace is available for that given day.
  • Offload routes from the New York satellite airports may be required if volume issues occur over the WHITE departure fix (although additional mileage will be incurred, actual departure delays should be reduced).
  • AZEZU: These deep-water routes will keep both northbound and southbound traffic out of Jacksonville (ZJX) and Washington (ZDC) Center airspace when certain military airspace is still active.

FAA Advisories

Operators can expect advisories to be issued daily, with information on which set of routes will be used. This will depend on whether or not special use airspace areas are active or inactive.

Approximately a week before Thanksgiving, an advisory will be published daily through Thanksgiving week, covering the next day of operation, to communicate to facilities and customers the exact routes that are expected to be used.

Expected Offload Routes Out of New York Satellite Airports

Required offload routes off the New York satellites may be required if volume is heavy over the WHITE departure fix. The offload routes will be published daily as needed.

Operators can exempt themselves from these required routes by filing the AZEZU deep-water routes if operating between the Northeast and Florida (deep water operational requirements must be met to utilize these routes).

Aside from the en route issues discussed on this page, operators should plan for possible ground delay programs at major Florida airports, particularly Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) and the major New York airports – including Teterboro Airport (TEB) and Westchester County Airport (HPN) – throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.

Operational Tips to Assist in Reducing Potential Delays

  • File flight plans as early as possible.
  • Utilize the offshore water routes (AZEZU) if possible.
  • Check the ATCSCC advisories prior to filing flight plans to ensure flight plan route compliance.
  • If possible, avoid late afternoon/early evening departures northbound on Sunday, Nov. 29.