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LGA second in nation for most airport delays

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LaGuardia Airport, renowned for the most flight delays in the nation for nearly a year, dropped to No. 2 in that category in the first five months of the year, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport nudged out LaGuardia and earned the dubious title of worst in the nation with 31.3 percent of its flights at least 15 minutes late compared with LaGuardia’s 31.1 percent. Weather, principally fog, was blamed for Seattle-Tacoma's plight.

LaGuardia’s record improved a bit from the 33.2 percent of flights delayed for the first five months of 2000, a year in which the airport accounted for nearly a quarter of all delays in the nation. A Port Authority moratorium on new flights at LaGuardia along with a Federal Aviation Administration lottery limiting departure and arrival airport slots in February have drastically cut back traffic at the airport this year.

John F. Kennedy International Airport had 29 percent of its flights 20.3 for the first five months of 2000) of its flights delayed, making it fifth-worst among the 31 largest airports in the nation in the January-May period. JFK’s record deteriorated from a rate of 20.3 percent in the first five months last year.

More than a quarter — 25.3 percent — of Newark International Airport’s flights were delayed, compared with 31.7 in the same period of last year. It made Newark No. 11 nationally in delays.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said the 150,000 people in Queens who live close enough to LaGuardia to endure aircraft noise would not be surprised at the statistics.

“This latest U.S. Department of Transportation report says exactly what the residents of Queens have been saying — LaGuardia Airport continues to be too crowded,” said Crowley, whose Congressional district includes LaGuardia.

“Airlines have been forcing flights into this airport without regard for local residents, like myself, who live with the constant thunder of arriving and department aircraft,” he said. “Even travelers, who are the supposed beneficiaries of added flights, are frequently confronted with major delays which most now view as inevitable. The system is broken and must be fixed.”

Among the top 31 airports in the United States, Cincinnati had the best delay record with 16.2 percent, the DOT said.

Los Angeles International Airport was third in delays with 30.3 percent behind Seattle and LaGuardia; Boston Logan Airport was fourth with 29.2 percent; after fifth-ranked JFK, San Francisco International was sixth at 28.8 percent; Chicago O’Hare seventh at 27.4 percent; Philadelphia airport eighth with 26.8 percent; Phoenix Sky Harbor airport ninth with 25.4 percent; and San Diego Lindbergh Airport 10th with 25.4 percent.

The congestion at LaGuardia worsened quickly in the spring of 2000 after Congress passed the Wendell H. Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, popularly known as Air-21, which permitted an unlimited number of regional jet flights at LaGuardia from what were termed underserved airports. Airlines rapidly scheduled more than 300 new flights out of LaGuardia, creating near chaos.

The FAA is expected to extend the restrictions brought about the slot lottery when it expires Sept. 15. Suggestions for a more permanent solution to the congestion have included charging airlines more in fees for operating flights during the busiest times.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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