Press Release Article


Date: Jun 06, 2001
Press Release Number: 87-2001

Port Authority Executive Director Neil D. Levin today sent the Federal Aviation Administration ideas for public comment, which would permanently address flight congestion at LaGuardia Airport. This is the latest in a series of steps the Port Authority has taken to reduce delays and increase efficiency at one of America’s busiest airports.
The Port Authority’s ideas include encouraging voluntary action by the airlines and consideration of new administrative measures restricting the total number of takeoffs and landings at LaGuardia. If necessary, these measures could be combined with market-oriented incentives encouraging airlines to use larger aircraft while reducing the overall number of flights at the airport.

“All of the stakeholders agree that there is a problem, and the traveling public deserves relief from congestion and delays. Although these ideas are under active consideration, the Port Authority has no preconceived conclusions about which idea, or combination of ideas, would offer the best permanent solution,” Mr. Levin stressed. “Our intent is to begin a national dialogue that will lead to a consensus about the best approach to reduce congestion at LaGuardia, while maintaining a high level of customer service and offering travelers the greatest possible choice of flights, without fare increases.\"

“As a longtime business traveler, I know first-hand how frustrating and costly flight delays can be,” said Port Authority Chairman Lewis M. Eisenberg. “We must take action on behalf of the more than 25 million passengers who fly into and out of LaGuardia Airport each year. People should be spending less time sitting on crowded runways. The Port Authority will work aggressively with the FAA, U.S. DOT, members of Congress, passengers and the airlines to meet the needs of the flying public.”

The Port Authority’s ideas submitted for public comment include:

·Encouraging voluntary industry solutions.

·Limiting the number of flights permitted each hour at LaGuardia.

·Charging airlines a “congestion fee” for most flights during peak periods, or conducting an auction among the airlines for a predetermined number of permitted flights.

·Providing rebates on fees, or other financial incentives, to encourage the use of larger aircraft, protect start-up airlines and preserve service to underserved markets.

·Providing funds to encourage the development of additional airport and airspace capacity in the region, including physical infrastructure and technological improvements.

Mr. Levin emphasized that if economic incentives become necessary, the use of any revenue raised would be limited to specific purposes, which would benefit the traveling public by improving the efficiency of the aviation system.

\"Our goal is not to create a new source of revenue,\" Mr. Levin said. “Everyone agrees that we have a problem at LaGuardia. Our goal is to solve that problem.”

At Governor George E. Pataki’s direction, the Port Authority will ensure upstate New York communities have broad access to air service to New York City, Mr. Levin said.

Port Authority Director of Aviation William R. DeCota said, “These ideas attempt to address a number of key objectives – reducing total flights at LaGuardia while maximizing the number of carriers and communities served, without increasing consumer costs. We expect that all concerned parties – including passengers, the airlines, community leaders, federal regulators and members of Congress – will fully participate in this process by analyzing the details of these ideas and formally expressing their opinions. We welcome their review and their own ideas to solve this critical problem.”

In the year 2000, LaGuardia Airport approached gridlock as airlines added more than 300 daily flights – an increase of more than 30 percent at the already congested airport.

The Port Authority responded by imposing an October 1, 2000, moratorium on new flights during peak periods at LaGuardia. The agency’s action prompted a series of meetings between representatives of the Port Authority, the FAA and DOT to discuss further steps. At the Port Authority’s request, in December 2000 the FAA implemented emergency rules that dramatically reduced the increase in flights at LaGuardia. As part of those new rules, the FAA conducted a “slot lottery” during which 13 airlines already serving LaGuardia competed for 159 available flight slots.

In effect, the moratorium and the slot lottery have combined to reduce delays by cutting the number of flights at LaGuardia from more than 1,400 a day to about 1,200 a day. Through the end of May 2001, these actions reduced by more than 19,000 the total number of flights at LaGuardia – saving passengers a combined 109 years in avoided flight delays.

The Port Authority’s actions have been praised by passenger groups, elected officials and airport operators. The agency also received a prestigious Aerospace Laurel award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine for taking strong actions to reduce congestion and delays at LaGuardia.