New York

NY’s Airports Are Worse Than Most: Report

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Delays at New York’s area airports not only hurt the city’s standing in the global marketplace but also pollute nearby communities, according to a report by Comptroller Bill Thompson.

In a new report, “Grounded: The Impact of Mounting Flight Delays on New York City’s Economy & Environment” Thompson found that passengers at local airports in 2007 waited 3.9 million extra hours for planes to take off after leaving the gate. This extra taxi time causes travelers to lose $187 million worth of time.

The report also found that:

  • Airline on-time performance at the major New York airports has plummeted, and the decrease has been much greater than in other cities. In 2003, the New York airports’ average on-time arrival rate was five percentage points below the national rate but in the first three-quarters of 2007 it was 13 points below the national rate.

  • The average taxi-out (the period between gate departure and “wheels up”) has increased several times as much in New York than elsewhere in the country.

  • New York airports have among the nation’s highest flight cancellation rates.

  • The leading contributors to delays are: an antiquated air traffic control system; poor management by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of efforts to modernize the system; not enough certified air traffic controllers and poor labor relations with controllers; and, airlines’ over-scheduling of flights during peak hours.

    Increased delays and traffic at local airports come with steep environmental consequences for Queens neighborhoods and Jamaica Bay, Thompson said.

    Thompson found:

    Large increases in flights in recent years, coupled with longer taxiing time, are adding to airport pollution. Thompson noted that the 70,000 additional annual take-offs and landings at the area’s three major airports in 2006 compared to 2000 are producing substantial additional amounts of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide, which react together to create ozone. New York City currently exceeds federal air quality standards for ozone.

    “For residents of Queens neighborhoods such as Elmhurst, Corona, and Springfield Gardens, air pollution around the airports is a concern that can only grow as air traffic continues to rise as expected. The entire city should be concerned about the impact of more chemical deicers and other pollutants flowing into Jamaica Bay because of the enormous increase in flights at Kennedy Airport – up 14.4 percent from 2000 to 2006 and another 23.5 percent increase in 2007,” Thompson said.

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