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City airports led the nation in delays during cold snap: Report

The polar vortex that swept through the city this week not only broke temperature records at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, but also led to some of its worst delays, according to a watchdog group.

The Global Gateway Alliance, reported Thursday that between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, the three area airports saw a combined 5,100 delays in flights, leading the nation during that period. New York came in second to Chicago in the number of cancellations during the three days with 2,100.

GGA executive director Stephen Sigmund said that although no one can predict harsh weather, the airports and airlines can do more to make sure fliers aren't left in the cold, helpless and frustrated.

"The capacity to mitigate the events, clearly there need to be some work on it," he said.

Just days after the city was hit with a snowstorm, an arctic circle drove temperatures to as low as 4 degrees Tuesday. The Port Authority didn't respond to messages for comment.

Sigmund said his group, which aims to improve efficiency at the New York airports, said the Port Authority and federal government must push forward with the FAA's NextGen plan that aims to modernize American airports. He noted that at the Munich airport, crews can de-ice the runway in less than 30-minutes with their state-of-the-art tools.

"There are investments that can be made in newer technologies that can help with future weather events," he said.

Sigmund said when extreme weather does ground jets, the airlines and airports need to do a better job and relaying information to ticket holders and mitigating the delays faster. Sigmund suggested that they add more staff to its customer service phone lines.

He said the snowstorm left a bad taste in the mouths of anyone who had to pass through Kennedy or LaGuardia.

"We think it's important for the airlines to prepare for these events. There has to be a holistic approach in the sky and on the ground," he said.


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