Will JFK Suck in Summer 2008?

I’ve supported the FAA stepping in to cut delays at JFK for awhile now, and it sounds like it’s finally going to happen. They convened a meeting of the big airlines at the airport this week to try to come to a voluntary agreement about reducing schedules. Of course, nobody is happy with the outcome.

07_10_25 jfksuxThe FAA introduced some guidelines for the talks saying that at its peak, they want the airport to have no more than 81 departures scheduled per hour. Right now, they’re averaging around 90 at the peak, but during the summer it was higher than that. So, we have someone coming in and taking charge finally. You know that means that nobody is happy.

The airlines and the Port Authority (which runs JFK) are the most unhappy. Led by the Air Transport Association (ATA), the airlines are saying that “Slashing operations at JFK alone will not solve the congestion problem.” Um, actually, yes it will. But their follow-up point is a valid one.

They say that this will just deny access to NYC even though passengers want it. The airlines aren’t going to be able to meet demand, so the FAA should make operational changes to allow more planes in instead of just cutting them off.

As far as I’m concerned, if the FAA can make changes to increase capacity that will take effect by this summer, they should do it and I’m onboard. But I’m skeptical that anything can happen that quickly.

The Port Authority’s proposal has a lot of capital improvements in it and those won’t happen quickly. If they have any quick hits, I’d hope the FAA would listen very closely. Otherwise, for next summer, the airlines will just have to suck it up and deal with the slot restrictions. It’s not ideal at all, but it’s a lot better than being stuck on a taxiway for 6 hours.

(By the way, the t-shirt image I’m showing actually says “Fly SUX” and is the latest marketing tool from the Sioux City airport. Yup, they have finally decided to embrace their airport code. You can buy your own shirt here.)

12 Responses to Will JFK Suck in Summer 2008?

  1. David says:

    Here’s an easy way to increase capacity at JFK, limit the use of the small commuter jets in favor of the larger Boeings and Airbuses. Even replacing the 50 seat commuter jets with MD-88s will nearly triple the available passenger capacity. 81 commuter flights per hour could carry 4000-5000 passengers while the larger jets could carry at least 12,000 passengers per hour.

  2. CF says:

    That’s definitely a good way to increase capacity, but it’s a sticky issue. It’s easy to say that they need to replace their 50 seat RJs with 150 seat narrowbodies, but most of the routes using 50 seaters just don’t have enough demand to fill the big guys. So in that case, the airlines will just stop serving those smaller cities. Is that better? I just don’t know.

  3. Bradley says:

    In late 2006 the FAA modified a seat/capacity rule at LGA, raising the required annual avg seats per aircraft, per airline, to around 80 or so. This still allows RJ’s to fly in.

    I see no reason why a similar rule could not be put in place at JFK. No reason to cut service to the smaller cities; just stop serving the big cities with the small planes so frequently.

    Additionally, if there is such demand, why shouldn’t the FAA increase landing fees as long as it funds expansion? However, if JFK gets raised fees and seat restrictions, so should EWR.

    Raise the costs. Raise the fares. Increase seat restrictions. Demand will slow but carriers already raised fares to cover fuel and netted millions this quarter.

    Elasticities in this market do not reflect national trends. If fares increase due to higher facility costs…

    – the airlines will still make money in the market with fewer planes

    – the PANYNJ generates revenue to cover expansion costs

    – the decrease in traffic buys a little more time for the FAA to sort out the airspace and develop NextGen.

    Problem solved. Let’s go get fajitas. Margaritas for everyone!

  4. Jason H says:

    Maybe the real solution (other than a new airport on an artificial island) is to restructure the three airports to serve certain kinds of flights.

    Right now, JFK can handle 75-87 flights per hour, LGA 78-85, and EWR 84-92 (from the FAA website). Since JFK is primarily an international port, then shift all the international flights (excluding Caribbean) to JFK. Make LGA serve long range domestic and short haul international, and make EWR serve as a regional jet and short haul domestic hub.

    Of course such a plan requires that there is excellent transportation between the airports, but it would at least put all the regional flights at the airport with the highest capacity.

  5. CF says:

    I like the artificial island (and the margaritas, for that matter), but I’m not a big fan of the plan to restructure airports like that. While local traffic is important, connecting traffic is also a very important component. This would effectively kill most connecting opportunities.

    If you get international flights into JFK, anyone who wants to go domestic would have to go to LGA or EWR. You split up hubs like Continental’s over in EWR and make travel miserable for all the connectors.

  6. chris carmody says:

    How about some comment on the first commercial flight of the A380 from Singapore to Sydney.

  7. Pingback: aviation.c0t0d0s0.org

  8. CF says:

    I am working on a piece about the A380 which I hope to have up on Monday. Don’t worry, I’m not ignoring it!

  9. Sean O'Neill says:

    Great analysis. Budget Travel’s website has posted a link to this, to bring more attention.

  10. chris carmody says:

    CF are you aware of this A380 blog to commemorate the first flight http://sq380.net/Trip%20Reports.html ?

  11. CF says:

    I hadn’t seen that. Thanks Chris.

  12. Richard says:

    Chris – talking of the Airbus A380 – I watched it 3 weeks ago take off from Manchester airport. That thing is scary – it is not travelling fast enough to take off!! (Or so it seems!)

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