New York metro area ponders airport expansion

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2011 7:03 PM
New York metro area ponders airport expansion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The group that manages New York's airports is studying proposals to expand them after a warning that failure to keep up with increasing air travel demand could hurt the region's economy.

Proposals poured in to the Port Authority of New York before July 1 deadline for comments on plans to expand usage at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, a Port Authority spokesman said.

The three airports are the worst in the nation in terms of delays and cancellations, according to a 2010 report by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"All three airports face increasing delays and congestion and if passenger growth continues and new facilities cannot be provided, these airports will no longer have the capability to meet the region's demand for passenger air service," the authority said in its request for proposals for an airport capacity study.

The request also cited a study released in January by the Regional Plan Association, an urban research group, which said that some of the region's airports would have to be redesigned to accommodate an additional 78 flights per hour during peak periods, up from the current 236. It predicted that the number of annual airline passengers in the region would increase from 104 million to 150 million by 2030.

JFK may need to build additional runways to cope with the demand, the regional study said. There would likely be fierce opposition on environmental grounds, especially if expansion encroached upon Jamaica Bay, which is part of the federally protected Gateway National Recreational Area.

But a failure to act could cost the region some $6 billion in wages, $16 billion in business sales and 125,000 jobs per year by 2030, the report said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)