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Port Authority acts to reduce air travel delays, enhance safety, increase airport capacity

NEW YORK - Runways and taxiways will become more efficient, aircraft on the ground will be more closely tracked, and greater use of the largest passenger and cargo planes will increase capacity at John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports as the result of $68 million worth of improvement programs approved Thursday by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners.

The action comes two weeks after the Port Authority’s Flight Delay Task Force, a high-level group of influential stakeholders in the aviation industry that produced more than 100 recommendations to reduce delays, increase safety and improve customer service, reconvened to demand that federal officials overhaul a 1950s era air traffic control system.

The Port Authority has called for solutions that increase capacity through investments in new technology and opposes efforts to limit capacity by implementing an auction system for airlines to bid on slots.  An auction system is not expected to reduce flight delays and will serve only as an additional tax on metropolitan-area passengers, increasing tickets prices by an estimated 12 percent.

The measures approved by the Board include:

  • Installation of a ground surveillance system at Kennedy Airport that works like GPS to pinpoint the exact location of all aircraft at the airport.  This information will be used to manage swifter movement of aircraft between the terminals and runways, saving more than $10 million annually in aircraft operating costs and value of passenger time, as calculated using federally established standards.
  • Widening of 32 taxiway intersections at Newark Airport to significantly increase the amount of available taxi routes for larger aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A340-600, which will create greater flexibility for air controllers to sequence departures and reduce taxi times for all aircraft.
  • Extension of Taxiways “YA” and “FB” at JFK to improve departure procedures on Runway 22R.  The improvements will cut takeoff times by up to 2 ½ minutes for every departing flight, equating to more than $82 million in annual savings.
  • Construction of a Taxiway “KA” hold pad at JFK to create more-efficient queuing and sequencing procedures for Runway 4L departures.  The improvements will reduce delays by about a minute per operation, for an annual savings of nearly $24 million.