NEW YORK PORTS - JFK and EWR challenge delays, European market sees shift in importance

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTJohn F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International (EWR) serve as gateways to the world for both cargo and passenger service. The airports, however, continue to be under pressure from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
As of early May, the DOT is allowing 30 more flights per day than last summer at EWR. The increase comes with a condition. Airlines must spread more services into off-peak times to achieve this volume and avoid the “chronic delays” seen in 2007. The new cap, which allows an average of 83 services per hour during peak periods, applies to both domestic and international flights. The same cap began in mid March on rotations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
Debate has been underway in Congress for some time for the US government to force airlines at JFK to cut their peak-time schedules or face imposed flight reductions, higher landing fees or both. The reason: JFK has one of the worst records for flight delays, a fact which Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Mary Peters claims impacts travelers to and from New York and across the entire aviation system.
While the issue impacts primarily passenger flights, it has a direct impact on cargo carried in their belly hold. Delta Air Lines, which operates as a passenger carrier, is an example of one carrier impacted. Delta is merging with Northwest Airlines, and is in a big expansion mode at JFK for international flights. This will provide for more opportunities for belly freight.
Among its 2008 planned expansion are additional routes from JFK to a host of destinations: Cape Town, South Africa (via Dakar), effective June 3; Dakar, Senegal, June 3; Cairo, Egypt, effective June 4; Malaga, Spain, June 4; Amman, Jordan, June 5; Lyon, France, July 17; Nairobi, Kenya (via Dakar), effective December 8; and Lagos, Nigeria, effective December 11. On March 10, Delta began service between JFK and Tel Aviv, Israel; London Heathrow, March 29; and Edinburgh, Scotland, May 1. Additional service is also being extended to as a host of destinations in the Caribbean and Central America—markets the carrier deems critical as links to Latin America.
A big concern among carriers is the possibility that the DOT might implement the same policy at other US airports.
“I don’t think there’s any question that if [flight cuts] are successful in New York, the [FAA] will try to apply them at other parts of the country,” exclaims James May, president, Air Transport Association (ATA). “The majority of flight delays are due to weather and an aging air traffic control system. We cannot fix the weather, but we can fix the broken ATC system.”
On behalf of its airline members, the ATA argues that the government should be looking to increase capacity rather than restricting demand. The industry is already under threat from escalating costs associated with the ever-rising price of fuel as well as expenditures related to security measures. Any cuts to flights at JFK would also impact airports across the country as well as abroad, says May. More than 60 airports in the United States have non-stop flights to JFK.
The FAA is already working to redesign the complex airspace over New York, which could reduce delays as much as 20%.
In recent years, shipments from Asia have skyrocketed. But last year JFK and EWR, that serve the New York Customs District (NYCD), saw their biggest percentage increases in airfreight from European markets. Total tonnage from Sweden was up 24.44% to 19,359 metric tons in 2007; Austria up 23.58% to 7,841 metric tons; Switzerland up 17.71% to 31,019 metric tons; and Poland up 17.03% with 7,047 metric tons. Germany weighed in at 107,160 metric tons, up 14%, with the United Kingdom at 100,853 metric tons, up 10.85%.
The United Kingdom led all markets for the NYCD exports, driven by iron and steel commodities as well as organic and inorganic chemicals. The top 10 export markets for the NYCD were (in descending order): the Un

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American Journal of Transportation