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Airports Conference

Regional Plan Association today released images, program materials, video and audio files of "Upgrading to World Class: the Future of the New York Region's Airports," held Thursday, January 27th at the JP Morgan Chase Conference Center in Lower Manhattan. Recap the days' events including keynote speeches by Marilyn Taylor, Chris Ward, Robert Steel and Michael Huerta and the presentation of RPA's long range planning study, "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York Region's Airports," the centerpiece for discussion. More materials, including presentations and transcripts will be posted as they become available. We'll be announcing the releases on Twitter, so sign up to follow us.

(NY, NY) Regional Plan Association, working alongside experts, stakeholders and members of the Better Airports Alliance, today released a comprehensive report and recommendations on increasing the New York region's overall airport capacity and efficiency over the next generation. Entitled "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the Regions Airports," the report is the result of a two-year long collaborative planning and research effort. Most notably, the report calls for the expeditious implementation of NextGen technologies to transform the nation's air traffic control system and immediate planning for the eventual expansion and/or reconfiguration of John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports.

The RPA report will be the centerpiece for discussion at a full-day conference being held today, hosted by RPA and the Better Airports Alliance at JP Morgan Chase. The conference, also entitled, "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 report findings.

Regional Plan Association, the Better Airport Alliance and the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management held a morning breakfast forum on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 on how airports in the United Kingdom have dealt with congestion issues. Chris Cain, Chair of the Forum of Regional European Airports and head of the Airport Development Team at Newquay Airport in the United Kingdom, described the challenges and strategies for addressing delays and economic losses caused by growing air congestion. Mr. Cain, also co-author of "The Future of Air Transport," a seminal white paper on planning for airport growth in the United Kingdom, discussed the London experience, drew comparisons to New York and touched on how other European airports - Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels - adapted as well. As the New York-New Jersey region continues to think about how to address the most severe congestion in the nation, lessons from other airports can help shape our own solutions.

See Chris Cain's Presentation
Listen to the audio
Download the Program/Cain Bio

On-time performance for airlines improved nation-wide this March, declares a recently released USA Today article. In fact, the 18 largest US carriers' domestic on-time arrival rate reached 80% in March, better than the prior year's rate of 78%. Extreme weather accounted for about 42% of delays. 
Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano whose ash has spread all over Europe, has wreaked havoc on air travelers and air transportation around the globe. While the cumulative economic impacts of Eyjafjallajokull will not be known for some time, to date 100,000 flights have been canceled; thousands of passengers have been stranded; airlines lost more than $1.7 billion through last Tuesday, according to an International Air Transportation Association report; and supply chains have been distrupted for everything from electronics to fresh fruits and vegetables. In an increasingly globalized economy and air system, disruptions in one region, or even in one airport, can have rippling effects throughout the rest of the world. 
Spirit Airlines announced recently that it would start instituting a $30 fee for carry on bags, with no charge for use of the space under passengers' seats. 
The New York Times reports that new fees on checked bags combined with the recession, which has reduced flying generally, led to a 24% decrease in the number of damaged and lost bags worldwide, saving the US airline industry $94 million and baggage handlers from injury.
The skies are looking brighter for air passengers after two pieces of legislation were passed recently. In one piece, the Federal Department of Transportation adopted rules, officially called "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections," which will go into effect on April 29, 2010. In the other, the Senate passed a bill designed to speed  and fund  the implementation of NextGen, which will update the nation's air traffic control system from radar to digital technology.
JFK Runway 13R-31L Closing

Starting today, runway 13R-31L at JFK International, otherwise known as the "Bay Runway" will close for four months as the 14,572-foot long stretch of pavement undergoes repairs.  The runway will be widened from 150 to 200 feet and taxiways will be added in an effort to ease traffic congestion at the airport.  Regional Plan Association is currently partnering with government, business and civic groups in studying long term solutions for reducing delays and managing passenger growth at the region's airports.  Results are expected this fall.

Even though there is no single silver bullet that will solve the NY region's airport woes, some improvements like NextGen will likely be part of the solution. This important technological upgrade of the nation's air traffic control system will have numerous benefits, which we covered in a previous post.

For all its benefits, implementation of NextGen will not be without challenges, one of which will involve negotiating with various labor groups over the duties and responsibilities of an air traffic controller under NextGen.