The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey set new passenger records again in 2015, the agency announced Wednesday: 124.2 million travelers used its commercial airports in 2015, up from about 117.3 million in 2014.
The Port’s three major hubs — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International — each reached all-time highs for total passengers in 2015, reflective of the busiest airport system in the country, the agency said. Those three airports accounted for 122.7 million of the 124.2 million passengers, and help generate $80 billion in regional economic activity every year and support more than 570,000 jobs, according to the authority’s news release.
“Our mandate to modernize our airports under a decadelong $8 billion capital program is enhanced by yet another year of record passenger growth,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in a statement.
Port Authority airports also served a record 43.6 million international passengers in 2015, the agency said.
Kennedy had its highest number of domestic passengers (26.8 million), its most international passengers (30 million) and highest total passengers (56.8 million). LaGuardia reached a new high for domestic passengers (26.7 million) and total passengers (28.4 million), and Newark broke its record for domestic passengers (25.7 million) and total passengers (37.5 million).
“The record-breaking 7 million passenger increase at our airports speaks to the importance of our airports as major regional economic drivers and to our city as a leading global hub,” said Joe Sitt, chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance, a travelers’ advocacy group that has long lobbied for developments to reduce congestion at the three busy hubs.
Sitt specifically cited the need to speed up the Federal Aviation Administration’s implementation of NextGen, a major overhaul of the national airspace that will replace World War II-era, radar-based air traffic control with more efficient GPS technology: “The airports are operating over capacity and our airways are the most congested in the nation. Unless we bring NextGen to the New York airspace and modernize our terminals to accommodate the rising demand, we risk leaving the potential for future growth on the table and millions of passengers facing unbearable delays.”
Not all Port Authority airports experienced growth in 2015. Not mentioned in the news release were the Port Authority’s two other commercial airports: Atlantic City International and Stewart International, which together accounted for about 1.5 million travelers in 2015.
Complete 2015 traffic figures on those airports weren’t immediately available on the Port Authority’s website Wednesday. As of November, passenger traffic at Atlantic City was down 1.6 percent, compared year-to-date to 2014. At Stewart, passenger traffic was expected to fall by 9.6 percent in 2015 after dropping 9.1 percent in the first 11 months of the year.
The Port Authority’s sixth airport, Teterboro, is a general aviation airport that doesn’t serve commercial airlines and was not included in the total passenger numbers, a spokesman said.