Why is My Flight Delayed? An Air Traffic Controller Explains

Friday, February 26, 2010

(Photo by Stephen Nessen)

Stephen Abraham, the president of the local National Air Traffic Controllers Association at JFK (Photo by Stephen Nessen)

Starting Monday, air traffic controllers at John F. Kennedy International airport are going to have to work with one less runway. The busiest and longest runway, which handles about 40 percent of the airport's traffic will be widened and much of the concrete will be replaced. The Port Authority plans to reopen the expanded runway on June 30.

Photo Gallery: Go inside the control tower at JFK.

Stephen Abraham, the local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and an air traffic controller for 20 years, says JFK is losing about 50 percent of its departure capacity. Below, he explains how JFK's controllers have prepared for this major change and how travelers will be affected. He says delays could be 'astronomical.'

Information courtesy of Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Information courtesy of Bureau of Transportation Statistics

You can find more statistics about JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty airports at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics website.


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Comments [1]

Patrick Smith

I am an airline pilot based in New York.

One very important facet this story didn't touch on is the disproportionate use of small regional jets (50 or 70 seaters) at JFK. You've got maybe 30 percent of takeoffs and landings carrying maybe 10 percent of the airport's passengers. This inefficient use of aircraft is a huge contributor to delays.

If airlines want to mitigate delays during the runway closure, they need to concentrate on cutting back on RJ flying during the busiest periods. (That means you too, JetBlue, with your swarming little Embraer jets.)

Patrick Smith

Feb. 26 2010 12:02 PM

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