June 17, 2007

No Surprise: New York Airports First In Flight Delays

I "Heart" New York?

"So what else is new?" may be the response from jaded passengers who fly into, out of, or over any of New York's three major airports to the findings that the Big Apple leads the nation in terms of flight delays or cancellations.

Passengers at those airports had more than a one in three chance that their flight was delayed or even canceled, leading the nation during the first quarter of 2007.

A full 38 percent of all flights at Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty were either late or canceled, reported the Associated Press.

And as one familiar with the "domino effect," (no, not the pizza) what impacts one, nay, three major airports, effects airlines nationwide.

"This impacts the entire country," agreed JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger. As goes Kennedy, he said, so goes the nation.

Working On The Problem

Okay, we've established that this is a consequential problem... but how can it be fixed? Government agencies and aviation experts will be working on the problem over the ensuing months, with plans that include the establishment of a task force to be convened by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Experts -- and, we imagine, anyone who flies commercially -- say the panel's job won't be easy, what with the "uncontrollable" factors of New York's bad geography and bad weather; storms not a problem elsewhere in the country often impede New York flights because of its location on the eastern seaboard. And the airports' outdated runway configurations mean fewer jets are landing each hour than at modern facilities.

And nearly six years post 9/11, air congestion is at an all-time high, with nearly 1.4 million flights passing through New York airspace last year, said the FAA.

"If an airport is scheduled at maximum capacity all day, and you have delays at any time, you can never recover from it," said R. John Hansman, an air travel expert at MIT.

Improvements Possible

The FAA is finalizing approval of a new flight pattern for the corridor between Delaware and Connecticut, which officials hope will reduce delays by 200,000 hours a year. Oh, the plan faces opposition from some communities under those routes.

The airlines and FAA are also pressing Congress to authorize a multibillion-dollar upgrade of the nation's air traffic control system with a high-tech replacement that would utilize global-positioning satellites to coordinate traffic, which woud allow aircraft to fly closer together. Unfortunately, the system wouldn't be available everywhere until at least 2025.

And in an effort add runway options to the New York area, the Port Authority is purchasing Stewart International Airport, 60 miles north of the city.

FMI: www.panynj.gov, www.faa.gov, www.bts.gov
Read more on the source at: The Aero-News Network

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