There are many benefits to living in the New York Tri-State area, but efficient airports aren’t one of them. Once again, the Tri-State area’s three major airports: LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International, and JFK International lead the nation in delays, according to a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Performance data from 2016 of the nation’s 29 largest airports was analyzed by the advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance to determine what airports had the highest percentage of delays in arriving flights and departing flights.
The results showed that all three regional airports ranked among the worst for delays in both categories. LaGuardia Airport had the highest percentage of delays in arriving flights and Newark Airport had the highest in delays specifically for departing trips.
Salt Lake City travelers on time
On the flip side, Salt Lake City International Airport boasts both the lowest percentage of arrival and departure delays in 2016 — with 12.8 percent of flights arriving late and 12.5 percent of flights departing late. By comparison, 28.1 percent of LaGuardia’s flights didn’t arrive on time and 24.4 percent of Newark’s flights failed to depart on time.
Why the delays?
The Port Authority said that Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark are in one of the busiest and most complex airspaces in the world, and that variables such as poor weather can cause delays that compound quickly. In 2016, more than 310,200 flights arrived at New York’s three regional airports according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
To this point, air traffic volume accounted for nearly a quarter of all “airspace delays”—defined as delays that can be remedied by airspace improvements — impacting more than 7,800 flights into the regional airports last year.
“Common weather conditions, such as rain and fog, are the cause of too many delays at New York area airports, highlighting the congestion in our airspace and the need for the FAA to finally bring air traffic technology into the 21st century,” a representative of the Global Gateway Alliance said last year.
And what to do
Not everyone agrees with the speed in which NextGen is being rolled out in NY airports. A Global Gateway Alliance has called for the Federal Aviation Administration to work with the Port Authority on extending runways and fully replacing radar with satellite air traffic control technology, known as NextGen.
The FAA said in a statement that they “have made a significant commitment to NextGen procedures and technologies at airports in the New York metropolitan area. The complexity of New York airspace is precisely why the FAA has chosen to invest in so many improvements that increase efficiency and safety in New York and will have ripple effects around the nation.”
The FAA argues that it’s been making strides in New York with NextGen, including a successful effort to swap out voice communications between pilots and controllers for a more efficient text messaging system at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.
Playing devil’s advocate, a Global Gateway Alliance representative stated, “NextGen really works when you have all the reforms in place. We’ve made some progress, but it’s complicated unless you transfer the whole system properly. NextGen tends to be put on the backburner in New York. The FAA tends to prioritize rolling out programs in smaller, less complex regions.”
The Global Gateway Alliance also stated, “While the terminal redevelopment projects are important, these dollars won’t be enough unless we address the delay problem too … Put simply, our airports will simply be nicer places to get stuck in.”