Wednesday, January 08, 2014
By Kate Hinds
On Tuesday, New York's governor called New York City's main airports "inexcusable." On Wednesday, he announced he would take over their redevelopment.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Nation Transportation Safety Board is reviewing the data and cockpit voice recorder of Southwest Flight 345 to determine why the front landing gear collapsed upon landing Monday night.
Monday, May 21, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is beefing up customer service at area airports — and getting some James Cameron-style help in the form of avatars.
The avatar is a life-sized flat screen in the shape of a woman who activates when a customer approaches. In a perky, smirky, sexy voice, she dispenses flight information and tips about airport services like the location of shuttle buses, rest rooms and taxis. She gives the same spiel to every customer.
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye unveiled one of the computerized avatars at a press conference at LaGuardia Airport Monday morning. He said the machines are meant to supplement the airport's 350 flesh-and-blood customer representatives, who will soon be joined by 70 new hires.
A total of five avatars are scheduled for installation at LaGuardia, JFK and Liberty Newark airports in early July. Unlike most humans, they won't be interactive. But Foye said he hopes a future iteration of the talking machines will hold conversations with passengers.
That didn't stop the demonstration avatar from extolling her advantages over human employees: "I never take a break, don't charge overtime, hardly ever take sick leave and I don't need a background check." Later, she smiled suggestively and said, "I can...be just about anything you want me to be."
(In the video above that's PA Chief Pat Foye, with white beard and glasses, in the background around the 35-second mark.)
The Authority also unveiled new airport apps and dozens of information kiosks and electronic device charging stations to help travelers.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Delta Air Lines will be the largest carrier from New York area airports by summer 2012. The airline announced a major expansion of service from New York's LaGuardia airport Friday, with the addition of more than 100 daily flights to 29 new cities.
The new routes target American Airlines and put Delta in a better position to compete against United, the current top airline by passenger seats in the region.
Delta says it plans to add four million passenger seats per year, in large part by using larger planes on the new flights. If the airline reaches that figure and competitors hold their passenger numbers steady, that would push Delta above Continental for the top stop in the New York Area. See current airline and passenger statistics at the Port Authority website.
Gail Grimmett, senior vice president for Delta in New York, wouldn't comment on the potential impact on fares. "We can't talk about future pricing, but I will tell you, this is a very competitive market and we do want to be... the carrier of choice for the people of New York."
United and Continental's merger into the world's largest airline puts Delta in second-place by traffic.
"It's about increasing Delta's overall appeal and utility to the high-yield business traveler," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "Delta is going for scope of service, rather than always having the largest number of flights to a smaller network of cities."
The expansion came about from a swap of airport slots with U.S. Airways. Delta gave up flights from Washington, D.C. National Airport and U.S. Airways ceded 117 LaGuardia slots. The U.S. DOT required the airlines to divest an additional 48 slots at the two airports as part of the deal. Those went to JetBlue and West Jet.
Delta will renovate two terminals at LaGuardia and begin the new flights in the summer of 2012.
With AP and with reporting from Claudia Morell.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Hurricane Irene made landfall in New York Sunday morning, downgraded to a tropical storm after hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Philadelphia, and New Jersey particularly hard over the weekend. Last night, the storm reached New England, triggering floods in Vermont. At least 16 deaths have been reported as a result of the storm. This morning, after being grounded through the weekend for Hurricane Irene, airlines at New York City's three major airports are readying their planes and crews for departures.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) With Congress in recess and the Federal Aviation Administration's partial shutdown grinding on, it seems more likely that 74,000 affected workers won't be getting a paycheck until September. The U.S. Department of Transportation says about 4,000 FAA workers have been furloughed and 70,000 construction workers put out of work by the dispute over the FAA's funding re-authorization, now two weeks old.
Dan Stefko, president of the Eastern Region Engineers & Architects at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says he and his co-workers are hurting. "Anger, dismay, disappointment and worry" are the words Stefko used to describe his feeling and those of his co-workers.
"All of us have mortgages we have to pay, we all have car payments. My members have families that they have to feed. A lot of them are worried. There's fear," Stefko said.
The FAA shut down after the GOP-led Congress inserted a policy change into a routine funding authorization. Senate Democrats balked, accusing Republicans of trying to gain leverage in a larger dispute over labor law. Though the President said Wednesday he expects the dispute to be resolved by week's end, neither party has shown signs of relenting.
Meanwhile, more than 250 projects around the U.S. have been halted. LaGuardia Airport in New York has been hit particularly hard. Here's a sample of its suspended projects:
- New runway status lights to let pilots know they're on the correct runway.
- Demolition of an old traffic control tower that is blocking the sight lines of controllers in a new tower when they look down to monitor certain taxiway intersections.
- The placement of $10 million worth of security bollards around the Central Terminal building.
Beyond LaGuardia, the region's major radar control facility in Garden City, Long Island, is not getting hardware and software upgrades to give air traffic controllers better information when guiding planes into and out of New York's airspace.
The development of NextGen technology, a long-term project, has also been stalled. The program aims to replace ground-based tracking of aircraft to satellite and GPS tracking. "That will will allow more precise routes and greater efficiency and cost-savings," Sefko said. "That means shorter routes for the flying public."
At JFK Airport, a major taxiway is not getting its potholes filled and old asphalt replaced. And half-completed improvements to an air traffic controller's break room have exiled controllers, who have strict rest requirements, to a cramped office.
At Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, a $20 million rehab of two of its runways has been stopped.
Stefko said the shutdown's timing is particularly bad because summer is the prime building season. "This is the best time to make concrete progress--literally," he said.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
A dispute in Congress over the Federal Aviation Administration's funding re-authorization has led to the suspension of 241 airport construction projects, affecting around 74,000 workers who won't be getting a paycheck until September as the partial shutdown of the FAA drags on.
Monday, August 01, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) UPDATED Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to LaGuardia Airport today to put pressure on Congress to end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, now in its 10th day.
LaHood stood with Administrator of the FAA Randy Babbitt in an American Airlines hangar with a view of the airport's old traffic control tower. A $6.3 million contract with a Brooklyn-based company to demolish the tower has been placed on hold while Congress is stalled over competing versions of a temporary extension for the agency.
The stalemate came after the Senate refused to pass a House version of the extension, which cut subsidies to several rural airports. The Democratic Senate is accusing the House of making the cut to force the Senate to change labor laws, which it says it will not do.
In an email to reporters today, Senator Jay Rockefeller's staffers say the West Virginia Democrat has come up with a version of a bill that matches Republican cuts, and say "that plan could move forward as early as today." No word from Congressional Republicans on whether they'd agree to the plan.
LaHood unleashed a blistering critique of the Congressional stalemate, which he says has caused the furlough of 4,000 FAA employees and lay-offs for 70,000 construction workers as $2.5 billion in airport projects languish around the country.
“Don’t take your vacation, Congress, until you pass an FAA bill so FAA employees can go back to work, so construction projects can continue here at LaGuardia, building the new tower,” he said.
Work has also stopped at the airport on a $10 million dollar installation of security bollards. Air traffic controllers are still on the job, but many of their support staff are not.
While the agency has been shut down, an FAA spokeswoman said today some 40 airport inspectors whose jobs are considered "critical to life and property" are being required to work, but can't be paid until the agency's funding is restored.
Construction projects at airports across the U.S. will remain suspended for the summer if Congress doesn't re-authorize the FAA before adjourning on Friday.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
By Kate Hinds
When the Federal Aviation Administration shut down at midnight on Friday, 4,000 workers were immediately furloughed. In the greater New York City area alone, 646 employees at the agency's tech center in Atlantic City and 125 workers in New York have been told to not show up to work. But the effects of the shutdown are spreading far beyond the agency's employees.
Construction company managers are turning workers away who show up for a day's work -- while air traffic controllers say they feel like "political pawns."
The US Department of Transportation says New Jersey has lost $44.7 million for airport projects across the state and New York has lost $62.6 million. Projects that have been issued stop work orders include a $20 million runway safety project at New Jersey's Teterboro Airport and a $10 million security bollards project at LaGuardia Airport.
Another job that's on hold: a $6 million teardown of an old air traffic control tower at LaGuardia -- a project singled out by US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as a galling example of congressional inaction.
Luca Toscano is the vice president at Paul J. Scariano, Inc. - the Brooklyn-based construction company that holds that contract. Toscano said that the demolition project has a crew of about 40-45 people, and he had to tell them to turn around and go home on Sunday night when they showed up for work. "Some people took the situation a little bit drastic, because some of them came from prior layoffs, start a new project, start a new work, some of them were very understanding of the situation...they understand there's nothing they can do about it."
Toscano is also concerned that the longer the shutdown goes on, the more likely his workers are to start looking for other work. "We fought hard enough to get the right people for the right job, and right now I'm afraid we'll lose some of these people," he said. "If there's no stability, what else are they going to do? They've got to feed their families."
He's also worried about the actual work area at the airport. "You have a scaffold that is structured to be maintained at all times. It's a suspended scaffold...if there's a situation of heavy winds, in a storm, there's a possibility of something flying away. (And) down below there are airplanes in stages of being loaded and unloaded. There's a lot of liability there."
A few miles southwest of LaGuardia, Stephen Abraham is an air traffic controller at JFK Airport in Queens. He's also the local president for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union which represents 1,100 of the furloughed FAA employees.
While all the air traffic controllers are still working, Abraham said "many of our co-workers -- engineers, architects, all people who kind of work behind the scenes, to let us do what we do every day -- aren't at work."
It's a situation he and his colleagues find frustrating. "The folks in Washington keep using the expression ''kicking the can.' They've kicked the can of FAA reauthorization 21 times. You don't like to be the political pawn, and that's what we're feeling like. "
Work has been halted on an $8 million job to rehab some of JFK's runways. Another JFK job that's ground to a halt? The controllers' break room, which was in the middle of a refurbishment. Now Abraham's office is serving as the makeshift break room.
Congressman John Mica - the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- told reporters yesterday that he has 'no idea" when the FAA will reopen. This doesn't sit well with Abraham.
"The furloughs are bad," he said. "These are your coworkers who all of a sudden aren't getting paid -- but it doesn't seem like with what's going on with the debt ceiling this is not tops on the list of things to get done in Washington."
For a list of projects that have halted, you can visit the FAA's website here.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Joyce and Bob Fliegel decided last night that the snowstorm would not keep them from getting to the city from their home in Merrick, Long Island. They’re due on a Caribbean-bound cruise ship departing from a Manhattan pier at 4 p.m. today. Taking no chances on missing it because of a snow-stranded train, they left yesterday and spent the night in Penn Station.
“We spent it with a lot of homeless people,” Bob Fliegel said with the good cheer of a man leaning on a suitcase full of sunscreen and Hawaiian shirts. He and his wife napped on chairs in the Long Island Railroad waiting room until station cleaners kicked them out at 3 in the morning. They then bought train tickets to Newark, which was the cheapest way to gain access to the all-night Amtrak waiting area.
“It was pretty creative,” he said.
Airline passengers were not so lucky. Read more on WNYC.org.
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