A conflict between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Bush administration escalated yesterday when the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would begin auctioning flight slots at Newark Liberty Airport on Sept. 3.

The Port Authority said on Monday that it will block flights that come to its airports in New York City and Newark that have obtained flight slots through an FAA auction process. The Port Authority maintains it has the right to block flight slots that are auctioned off and that the new process will increase costs to passengers.

The FAA said it would auction a five-year lease to the right for a single, daily roundtrip flight at Newark airport.

 “This auction will allow us to implement market mechanisms on a small scale, gauge interest and determine a slot’s market value,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said in a press release. “However, the real winners in this auction will be consumers, who stand to benefit from more reliable air service that costs less in terms of both time and money.”

The FAA plans to announce today details of the auction process and conditions of its lease on its Web site.

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