During one of the busiest travel times of the year, flights in the New York City metropolitan area were last month cancelled or delayed more than almost any other city in the country, according to a new analysis.
New York City’s delays and cancellations were second only to those in Washington, D.C., where the three major area airports — Washington Dulles International, Baltimore/Washington International and Ronald Reagan National — had 21,311 disrupted flights last month, the analysis said.
The New York area’s three major airports, Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International, had a combined 18,739 disrupted flights — meaning they were delayed or cancelled — from Dec. 5 to Jan. 4, said the Global Gateway Alliance, a Manhattan-based travelers advocacy group that compiled the data. LaGuardia had by far the highest number of disrupted flights of the three, with 10,204, followed by Newark’s 6,279. Travelers at Kennedy faced the least number of disruptions, with 2,256 over that period, according to the analysis, created using data from flightstats.com.
“Every time there is bad weather, it shouldn’t cause hours-long delays for passengers, especially during such a critical travel period,” said Alliance chairman and founder Joe Sitt.
According to flightstats.com, the worst delays came the day before Christmas Eve, when fog, rain and wind wrecked visibility and hampered air travel along the East Coast, and in the days after Christmas. Cancellations spiked to their highest point on Dec. 28, according to the website.
Long Island MacArthur Airport wasn’t included in the Alliance analysis. As a small hub with 15 daily flights, MacArthur doesn’t experience the congestion typical of metropolitan airports.
FlightStats, based in Portland, Oregon, provides data and analytical services to the travel industry, and tracks worldwide flight delays and cancellations on its website.
The Alliance has blamed dated air traffic control technology and delays in the Federal Aviation Administration’s implementation of NextGen, an upgrade to the nation’s airspace that is replacing ground-based radar with more efficient GPS technology that will enable airlines to fly more direct routes to their destinations and allow planes to fly with less distance between them.
“Because the federal government has not done enough to modernize air traffic control, even mild weather like rain will continue to delay millions of travelers,” Sitt said. “It’s past time to bring satellite technology that’s at least as good as what passengers have in their pockets to all flights at our airports.”
The FAA said major facets of NextGen were implemented at the three hubs and at regional air traffic control facilities in the last year, including more efficient flight routes known as performance based navigation, the ability to have less distance between airplanes during flight and during takeoff and landing, and airport surface detection equipment, a satellite-based surveillance system that alerts air traffic controllers of potential runway conflicts. More improvements are coming to New York this year as part of the program, which is expected to cost a total of about $20 billion from 2007 to 2030, the FAA said.
“The complexity of New York airspace is precisely why the FAA has chosen to invest in so many improvements there right away,” the agency said in a statement. “NextGen improvements that increase efficiency and safety in New York will have ripple effects around the nation.”