City report says NYC-area flight delays getting worse

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(AP) - Flight delays at New York airports are gettingworse every year at a rate much faster than other U.S. cities,polluting the air and eroding the city's ability to compete in theglobal marketplace, a city official said Sunday.

In a 36-page report, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr.said the on-time performance of commercial aircraft at the threemajor regional airports was 13 percent below the national average;nearly three times more than in 2003, he said.

"One of New York City's major competitive advantages is itsoutstanding air connections with the rest of the nation and theworld. This advantage is now being degraded by the decliningreliability of air travel into and out of New York," Thompson saidin a statement accompanying the report.

Thompson said the Federal Aviation Administration needed tomodernize an "antiquated" air traffic control system, train morecontrollers and stop overscheduling airline flights during peakhours.

He also said the FAA should have included the New York airportsin a recent $1.5 billion award to upgrade ground controlfacilities, and recommended temporary caps on flight numbers atJohn F. Kennedy and Newark-Liberty International Airports. Three offour of the nation's delayed flights come from Kennedy, Newark andLaGuardia Airports.

He said his recommendations could ease delays and save airlinesand passengers nearly $260 million a year at Kennedy Airport alone. FAA spokesman Brian Turmail said the White House announced lastSeptember that New York airport delays would be given "specialpriority" to speed changes. The agency, he said, has taken severalsteps including a redesign of East Coast flight routes to easecongestion at peak hours.

"What we are looking for are more suggestions as to how thesituation might be improved," Turmail said. "There have beensome, but this is a little like relying on a handkerchief when aparachute is needed - it's not going to be enough."

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,which owns the airports, said that Thompson proposed many of thesame recommendations already offered by a task force to deal withthe problem, including one to immediately fund upgrades to airtraffic control technology.

"The solutions to the chronic delay problems are expandingairspace capacity, improved management of delays by the FAA, andbetter customer service in the event of delays," she said.

Related Information:Read the report

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