New York City’s three regional airports have some of the worst delay records so far this year, according to a new report from the Global Gateway Alliance.
The report, published Wednesday, found that LaGuardia Airport was ranked as the worst among the nation’s top 29 airports when comparing on-time arrival and departure performances over the first eight months of 2016. Newark and Kennedy Airports weren’t that far behind, ranking 28th and 26th, respectively.
Delays could be attributed to the crowded airspace above the New York region, according to the alliance. Joe Sitt, the alliance’s chairman, said that the Federal Aviation Administration needs to do more to incorporate new technology — a system suite known as NextGen — that would allow for more planes to travel in the air more efficiently.
“Despite years of spending on terminals and runway improvements, our New York-New Jersey airports still lead the nation in flight delays, leaving passengers stranded on the runway or in the crowded airways circling our hubs,” Sitt said in a statement. “The bottom line is more dramatic steps are needed to relieve the problem. It is past time for the Federal Aviation Administration to fully implement NextGen in our airspace, where it’s most needed, and we must expand the runways at our airports.”
About 72.66% of planes arriving and departing at LaGuardia did so on time, according to data culled from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and analyzed by the alliance. Salt Lake City International Airport, the best-performing airport, had an on-time record of 87.67%.
The notoriously delay-prone airports are fixtures at the bottom of on-time reports. During the same eight months of 2015, Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia airports finished in the bottom six nationally.
NextGen, an ongoing overhaul of the nation’s antiquated air traffic control system, swaps out radar-based systems for GPS technology. But there are many pieces to the NextGen puzzle. The tech needs to be available in airplanes as well as towers and it’s less effective, the alliance said, if it’s not fully in place.
The FAA in a statement said it has made “a significant commitment to NextGen procedures and technologies” in metro airports.
“NextGen provides tools and procedures that are increasing the safety, capacity and efficiency in New York and across the country,” the statement continued. “The complexity of New York airspace is precisely why the FAA has chosen to invest in so many improvements that increase efficiency and safety in New York [and] will have ripple effects around the nation.”
The agency pointed to a variety of NextGen tech in place at the airports to help controllers track departure congestion; vehicles and planes on the airport surface; and communicate with pilots through digital messages. The FAA also said that planes were using procedures allowing for more takeoffs and landings in a given time and navigation that allows for pilots to use curved approaches and more direct path flights.
“The full benefits of these individual programs will only be realized when they work in concert with all the NextGen reforms, which create a satellite positioning and navigation system for the skies,” the alliance countered in its report.