Informing and activating Metro NY Residents on solutions to airport delays and congestion

Airport congestion affects our economy and our lives. But it doesn't have to be that way. Solutions exist for smoother, less maddening air travel. was established by Regional Plan Association to inform and activate Metro New York residents about the problem of airport congestion and delays, offer real solutions for a better future and build the public consensus necessary to make better airports a reality.

Better airports are within reach.

Browse through, learn more about the problem and take action.

Airports Conference

Regional Plan Association today released images, program materials, video and audio files of "Upgrading to World Class: the Future of the New York Region's Airports," held Thursday, January 27th at the JP Morgan Chase Conference Center in Lower Manhattan. Recap the days' events including keynote speeches by Marilyn Taylor, Chris Ward, Robert Steel and Michael Huerta and the presentation of RPA's long range planning study, "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York Region's Airports," the centerpiece for discussion. More materials, including presentations and transcripts will be posted as they become available. We'll be announcing the releases on Twitter, so sign up to follow us.

(NY, NY) Regional Plan Association, working alongside experts, stakeholders and members of the Better Airports Alliance, today released a comprehensive report and recommendations on increasing the New York region's overall airport capacity and efficiency over the next generation. Entitled "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the Regions Airports," the report is the result of a two-year long collaborative planning and research effort. Most notably, the report calls for the expeditious implementation of NextGen technologies to transform the nation's air traffic control system and immediate planning for the eventual expansion and/or reconfiguration of John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports.

The RPA report will be the centerpiece for discussion at a full-day conference being held today, hosted by RPA and the Better Airports Alliance at JP Morgan Chase. The conference, also entitled, "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York Region's Airports," will bring together hundreds of top business, civic, philanthropic, media and government leaders from across the metropolitan region and nation to discuss the report findings.

To all the Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York's Region's Airports conference attendees: we will be starting the program at 10am in stead of 8am and on a revised schedule due to the storm. We look forward to seeing you there.

By William Rudin and Jonathan Tisch

Body scanners aren't the only cause of airport delays this holiday season. Here in New York, we suffer from a more fundamental problem: too much demand and too little capacity. Over 100 million passengers a year move through John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark airports, which handle a third of the nation's flights. Our airports, however, were not built to meet this demand and now rank as the worst nationally in delays. According to the Partnership for New York City, costs to the regional economy from flight delays caused by congestion at our three major airports totaled more than $2.6 billion in 2008 and will reach $79 billion by 2025.

New York has some of the world's greatest assets for attracting business, trade and tourism. But with passenger counts expected to continue climbing, we must upgrade our airports to maintain New York's status as a world-class city.

Chris Cain, an expert in European airport policy, has found that the more economically advanced a city, the greater the importance of airports. High-value activities such as banking, business services, communications, biotech, energy and media involve more air travel. Global cities are defined not just by their population and gross domestic product but by the quality and soundness of their infrastructure--including airports.

By Neysa Pranger, Public Affairs Director, RPA

A few weeks ago, the Federal Department of Transportation issued a report confirming what many flying in and out of New York region's three major airports already knew - that delays and cancellations pose a major problem for business and leisure travelers alike. With the busiest travel season of the year upon us, chances are this dilemma may be uncomfortably fresh for many of us. Fortunately, an exciting and productive day-long public conference on January 27, led by RPA, will provide an opportunity to discuss ways to reduce flight delays and increase air capacity in the region.

New York's three airports handle about a third of all air traffic in the nation. Is it surprising, then, to hear that three-quarters of nationwide delays are attributable to congestion originating from our region's airspace? This fact is made worse by the fact that, much like traffic congestion, air delays have a multi-billion dollar devastating impact on the local economy in terms of lost wages, fuel and environmental pollution.

Regional Plan Association, the Better Airport Alliance and the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management held a morning breakfast forum on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 on how airports in the United Kingdom have dealt with congestion issues. Chris Cain, Chair of the Forum of Regional European Airports and head of the Airport Development Team at Newquay Airport in the United Kingdom, described the challenges and strategies for addressing delays and economic losses caused by growing air congestion. Mr. Cain, also co-author of "The Future of Air Transport," a seminal white paper on planning for airport growth in the United Kingdom, discussed the London experience, drew comparisons to New York and touched on how other European airports - Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels - adapted as well. As the New York-New Jersey region continues to think about how to address the most severe congestion in the nation, lessons from other airports can help shape our own solutions.

See Chris Cain's Presentation
Listen to the audio
Download the Program/Cain Bio

Terminals are a critical piece of the airport system, they must efficiently transition passengers between ground services and their awaiting flights.  To accomplish that goal, terminals host a number of functions including:

  • Passenger ticketing 
  • Baggage check-in and retrieval 
  • Security checking 
  • Holding areas for departing and connecting passengers waiting at gates to board aircraft 
  • Areas for "meters and greeters" 
  • Convenience areas for passengers so they can dine or shop 
  • Circulation space allowing passengers to move from gate to gate and elsewhere in the terminal 
  • Ground access connections, including rental car service, shuttle buses and connections to local transit.
These important functions must be designed with the airside reality in mind - especially where the landside and airside meet, at the gates. Terminals are designed to accommodate aircraft in and out of the gate areas as effectively and efficiently as possible, and provide space for ramp towers that control the movements of aircraft in the terminal area.   The seamless integration of ground transportation services is another critical terminal component, which ideally provides a variety of transportation options (private auto, taxi, buses, rail, etc..) for arriving and departing passengers. 

A coalition of business, civic, labor and environmental organizations announced the formal launch of a campaign to restore, maintain and expand the New York Metro region's airports on Tuesday.  The "Better Airports Alliance" aims to educate residents on the problem of airport delays, provide fresh solutions to relieve congestion and build a consensus for major improvements.

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