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Business in brief: Airline delays expected to rise

Airline passengers can expect more delays as airplanes crowd the skies, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

The agency expects an average of 1.4 million more takeoffs and landings – the equivalent of traffic at two Dallas-Fort Worth International Airports – every year until 2020. In 2006, air traffic controllers handled 61.1 million takeoffs and landings.

“Delays are mounting due to congested airspace and congested airports,” said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “The congestion is really becoming a chronic thing.”

Blakey said 2006 was the worst year ever for delays, and 2007 isn’t looking any better. Last year, more than 490,000 flights departed or arrived late, she said.

This year, domestic airline ticket prices are expected to increase by 0.4 percent before dropping an average of 0.9 percent annually, the FAA said as part of its annual aviation forecast.

The agency predicts airline traffic will grow faster at hub airports than at smaller ones.

Washington’s Dulles International Airport will experience the most growth – 68 percent by 2020. Air traffic at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will grow by 59 percent, followed by Los Angeles International Airport at 54 percent and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 38 percent.


Jury selected for Black trial

A jury was selected Thursday in the racketeering trial of former press lord Conrad M. Black, and jurors were instructed to return Monday for opening statements.

Of the 20 people chosen after two days of questioning, 18 will be seated – 12 jurors and six alternates. No identifying information about the selected jurors was provided in court Thursday.

Black is accused of selling off hundreds of community newspapers owned by Hollinger International Inc. and pocketing payments from the buyers.

Prosecutors say the millions of dollars paid in exchange for promises not to compete with the new owners should have gone to the shareholders.


Droid R2-D2 to collect mail

Thirty years ago, in theaters near and far, far away, a movie opened the imaginations of millions, combining the magics of mythology and special effects to launch the “Star Wars” phenomenon.

A star of those films – the brave little robot R2-D2 – is about to take a turn collecting mail as the Postal Service and Lucasfilm Ltd. commemorate that movie launch.

The post office is wrapping mail collection boxes in some 200 cities nationwide in a special covering to look like R2-D2.

It’s part of a promotion for a new stamp to be announced March 28, Anita T. Bizzotto, the post office’s chief marketing officer, said.

“It’s a little teaser for the upcoming announcement and we decided to have a little fun with it,” she said.

About 400 mailboxes will be covered to look like the stout droid.


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