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.
The reason for delays is simple: more people are flying than can reasonably be accommodated. This has landed New York with the nasty reputation as the delay capital of the nation and is outright hurting our status as a world class city. To further complicate the equation, as our economy continues to move from manufacturing into higher-value industries such as business services, banking and media, we will rely on more face-to-face interaction and therefore will depend more heavily on our airports to conduct that business.
In other words, for New York to survive as an economic epicenter, getting people in and out of our airports efficiently is going to become even more important than it is today. Cutting down on delays is critical but not sufficient; we also need to provide the capacity to attract new business activity and tourism in the region.
It is with this background that RPA will host a major conference this coming January to examine options for a brighter aviation future for the New York region. 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 roll-out of recommendations emerging from a two-year long collaborative planning and research process led by RPA to determine airport capacity needs and potential gains from a series of actions.
Recommendations will range from better navigations systems, expansion of our three existing airports, greater use of outlying airports, investment in intercity rail to divert air passengers, as well as demand-management actions such as pricing, restrictions by time of day, distance or destinations of flights, or by size of aircraft. Capacity gains from each action will be presented along with the action's cost, impact on the environment, and actors responsible for implementation. The conference will identify the barriers to overcome and include a discussion of strategies for moving forward.
It's time to shake our reputation for worst in class and start planning for best in class. We hope you can join us on January 27th.