By Philip Newman
A poll on airports in the New York City metropolitan area indicates that except for the cost of flying, flight delays are the biggest problem for air travelers.
Indeed, delays are the worst in the nation at LaGuardia Airport followed by John F. Kennedy International Airport then Newark Liberty Airport.
A Federal Aviation Administration report said that in 2007 three-fourths of all delays at nationwide airports were due to delays at city airports.
“Air traffic congestion and the delays it causes damages … the metro area’s economy. This poll and the analysis we have undertaken point to the feasible solutions to solve air congestion that otherwise is only going to get worse,” said Jeffrey Zupan, study director and senior fellow of the Regional Plan Association, which commissioned the poll.
The poll, conducted among 812 adults in the 31-county, three-state New York metropolitan region, was taken from Aug. 20-27.
Key findings included:
• flight delays are a top problem. The high cost of air travel is No. 1 and more important than baggage check-in and retrieval, security lines or difficulty of moving around or to the airport. Delays are judged much more important than numbers of choices as to where to fly, when to fly or whether the flights are non-stop.
• the poll said 69 percent to 27 percent of those polled favored speeded up intercity rail service, use of Stewart Airport in Orange County for more flights to relieve the three major airports was favored 64 percent to 32 percent, investment in the modern air traffic control system known as NEXTGEN was favored 61 percent to 34 percent and the redesign of air traffic patterns was favored 58 percent to 35 percent.
Respondents overwhelmingly rejected the idea of building a new airport, as was pricing flights by time of day to encourage shifts of travel away from peak periods.
Six times as many responders to the poll think air traffic congestion is getting worse despite a drop in flight numbers due to the economic recession.
Respondents concluded that the main cause of delays was too many people for too little air and runway space.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.