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Group says JFK, LGA need to be modernized

A Delta flight makes its way on a slushy runway after a Delta Connection flight from Toronto to New York skidded off the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month. AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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An air travel advocacy agency has called for increased efforts to modernize and improve New York’s three airports to decrease the tremendous number of flight delays and cancellations caused by winter storms, like the one early this month that crippled John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty.

The storm caused more than 5,100 delays and 2,100 cancellations, the Global Gateway Alliance said.

“The thousands of cancellations and delays we saw are a wake-up call for leadership to start focusing on better airports, and they underscore why Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he is taking responsibility for New York airport modernization is so timely,” said Joe Sitt, chairman and founder of GGA. The alliance was established to promote better air travel to the New York Metropolitan Area.

“LaGuardia and JFK are inexcusable, frankly, that they have not been redeveloped to keep pace with the best international airports,” Cuomo said. “And that is something that we’re going to attend to.”

Sitt said it was time the airports learned to function efficiently even in face of rough weather conditions.

“Bad weather that causes serious disruptions in air traffic is going to happen, but it shouldn’t continually wreak havoc,” Sitt said. “Travelers should expect everyone involved in the industry to create a modern, safe and efficient aviation system and should hold our leaders accountable for delivering.”

“For too long aviation investment has taken a back seat to other budget and infrastructure priorities,” said GGA Executive Director Stephen Sigmund. “But the first week of 2014 can serve as a turning point to putting resources, focus and leadership toward finally modernizing air travel. Our economy, brand and quality of life for millions depend on it.”

Specifically, the Global Gateway Alliance called for faster implementation of NextGen, the Federal Aviation Administration’s state-of-the-art air control system at airports.

“NextGen won’t stop bad weather, but it can help manage and mitigate the impact of individual storms,” the GGA said.

GGA called for improvements at airports to accommodate the hordes of passengers stranded by bad weather.

“Pictures of passengers packed inside outdated terminals like LaGuardia recently demonstrate that significant investments are needed,” the GGA said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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