New Schumer Study Reveals for First Time LaGuardia, JFK And Newark Rank as Worst Three in Nation for Delayed Flights

Of 33 Busiest Airports in Country, LGA, JFK and Newark Rank 31, 32, and 33 In Late ArrivalsOne Third of Travelers Flying into New York are Now LateSchumer Unveils 4 Point plan to Combat Delays

As Thanksgiving approaches, and New Yorkers prepare for the busiest travel season of the year, today U.S. Senator Charles E .Schumer released a study confirming many travelers worst suspicions, New York City area airports are, for the first time, the worst airports in the country in on time performance, and the problem has gotten markedly worse in the past few years. With nearly 100 million travelers passing through NYC area airports and growing, Schumer called on the FAA, the Administration and the Air Traffic Controllers union to address this problem before it gets worse.

I think most New Yorkers suspected that this situation was bad, but this data shows that flight delays are getting worse, with no end in sight, Schumer said. We all know the frustration of being stuck on the runway or in the airport when you should be at home with your family. We need more accountability at the FAA, in the towers and on the ground so that we can remedy this.

Schumers study uses the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and reveals that of the 3 airports that nearly 100 million travelers passing through New York rely on each year JFK, LaGuardia and Newark International have the worst records in the nation for getting travelers in and out on time. The study also shows that these records have gotten worse in the past few years.

Of the 33 largest airports nationwide, JFK and La Guardia consistently rank near last in ontime performance. From January through September 2005, 33% of flights to LaGuardia were delayed , making it 32nd out of 33. In 2004, 27% were delayed and it was ranked 31st, and in 2003 LaGuardia had 24% of flights delayed and was ranked 29th. JFK had a similarly disappointing record. From January through September 2005, a full 30% of flights arrived late, placing it 31st among the nations 33 large airports. But in 2004, JFK had a 24% of flights delayed with a rank of 25th, in 2003 it has only 20% of flights delayed and ranked 23rd. Newark has consistently posted worst or second to worst. Now it is ranked 33rd of 33 with 34% of arrivals delayed.

This summer was the worst ever in terms of delays. In August alone, one out of every three flights in to JFK and La Guardia were late (31% and 32% respectively). Flights out of these airports fared no better, with 22% of flights out of LaGuardia and 25% out of JFK delayed.

The data released today showed that over the past three years the frequency of delays has become worse. In 2003, 82% of flights nationwide arrived on time, 78% in 2004, and down to 75% in 2005 so far. This represents a national drop of 7 percentage points. However, JFK and La Guardia, the problem is worse. At JFK, the percentage of flights arriving on time dropped 9 percentage points from 2003 through 2005 and at LaGuardia, the drop was 11 percentage points.

JFK and La Guardias most popular destinations are bearing the brunt. Out of JFK, more than one out of every four flights to Los Angeles (26%), Ft. Lauderdale (31%), Orlando (25%), San Juan (29%), Boston (25%), and West Palm Beach (30%) reach their destinations late. At La Guardia, its no better, with one out of every three flights to Atlanta (31%), RaleighDurham (31%) and Detroit (33%) reaching their destinations late.

The rise in delays can not only be attributed to weather, showing there is something structurally wrong with how the FAA and air traffic control are managing the traffic in the New York City area. The percentage of total arrival delays that are nonweather related has more than doubled in the last three months, from 19% in July to 43% in September. Nonweather delays can be attributed to nonextreme weather conditions, airport operations, heavy traffic volume and air traffic control.

Schumer today detailed his four point plan to combat the record at the three airports and help New Yorkers reach their destinations on time. The Senator:

Called on the President and the Department of Transportation to put a new control tower at LaGuardia in next years FAA budget. The current tower is dilapidated and its current position and height prevent controllers from having a direct view of the runway. La Guardia needs a workable, state of the art tower in order to handle increasing traffic.

Wrote a letter to the FAA asking them to stop dragging its feet on implementing new plane separation rules and to finally fix the management situation at the New York TRACON. Earlier this year, Senator Schumer called on Secretary Mineta to personally intervene and settle the dispute between the FAA and the Air Traffic Controllers Union. In his letter, Schumer reiterated his call, saying the situation has become worse not better. As part of the DOTs investigation and final Tiger Team report on the NY TRACON, the DOT said it would craft new spacing rules in order to give controllers more flexibility when guiding planes in and out of the New York City airports. Specifically, the rules would allow controllers to bring planes closer together during times of heavy traffic. After more than three months, no action has been taken.

Demanded that the FAA finally deploy the state of the art runway monitoring technology to JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. Just weeks ago, after Schumer had called for the deployment of this equipment for the New York airports, the FAA announced that they would equip the three airports with this technology, but gave a murky timeline. Today Schumer called on the FAA to deliver within the year as the new equipment helps controllers monitor and move planes on the runways more efficiently.

He also called on the FAA to move forward with its redesign of the airspace over New York. Schumer said that the FAA's delays on massive New York airspace redesign are hampering efforts to manage the air traffic over New York City more effectively and efficiently. That project is now projected to be at least four years late. Before the project can proceed, the FAA must complete a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which was originally set for release in 2003. After multiple delays, it was expected this fall. The Draft EIS still has not been released.

Click here to view study.

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