ALLEGHENY COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY RELEASES WHITE PAPER ON NORTHEAST AIR TRAFFIC CONGESTION SOLUTIONS
- PROPOSAL WOULD SAVE NEARLY $20 BILLION IN CAPITAL INVESTMENTS
- PIT PROVIDED SAFE HAVEN FOR DOZENS OF AIRCRAFT DURING HURRICANE IRENE
PITTSBURGH, PA (August 31, 2011) – From Saturday to Sunday, August 27-28, Pittsburgh International Airport hosted more than 70 aircraft (commercial airlines, military and general aviation) from the east coast, providing a safe haven from Hurricane Irene. The Airport Authority worked with airlines to coordinate an aircraft parking and fueling plan. PIT also accepted a number of diversion flights with passengers due to inclement east coast weather.
“Our region was spared from the storm’s impact this weekend. Serving as a site for airline diversions is a frequent occurrence at Pittsburgh International Airport. It gives us an opportunity to offer a solution to the issue of east coast traffic congestion and showcase our capacity,” said Bradley D. Penrod, Executive Director and CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
The Allegheny County Airport Authority has released its Pittsburgh CASE (Capacity and Service Enhancement) Program, a white paper examining methods of decreasing air traffic congestion in the Northeast Corridor to benefit the air traveler with realistic, reliable flight schedules.
“Aviation system delays are at the crisis stage. Something must be done and using existing facilities such as Pittsburgh International Airport presents a viable solution to the problem. The Pittsburgh CASE proposes a plan to take advantage of the money the Federal Aviation Administration has already invested here to alleviate the daily congestion at airports on the East Coast corridor,” stated Penrod. “No other minimal investment holds the promise of relieving airline delays to the extent of this proposal."
The Pittsburgh CASE Program incorporates many of the concepts of wayports – a high-capacity system providing opportunities to relieve delays at congested urban airports and lower the cost and environmental impact of the aviation system by utilizing existing infrastructure at other airports. Additionally, the Program would address the issue of large delays during East Coast weather situations with its geographic location, allowing for the aviation system to continue operating for passengers.
The Wayports concept has been recognized by many as the way to improve America’s air travel system by reducing gridlock at key airports. The concept challenges the status quo in which airlines and airports are invested. Wayports would route connecting traffic through less congested airports and set traffic to origination and destination (O&D) in airports more prone to delays to airport capacity limits.
Delays pose an increased cost of equipment and personnel, expensive fuel burn and increase passenger frustration. These increased costs result in higher airfares for passengers and reduced profitability and productivity for airlines. The DOT Tarmac Delay Rule, which fines airlines for delays to passengers, presents airlines with operational challenges resulting in increased flight cancellations. Unless the chronic delay issue is addressed, the capacity of the U.S. aviation system is at risk to remain competitive globally.
Executive Summary Excerpt:
Congestion at the Philadelphia (PHL), Kennedy (JFK), Newark (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA) and Northeast Corridor airports has gone from inconvenience to crisis. The airports and airlines are not motivated to take action that might threaten their competitive position. The FAA response to congestion has been restriction of growth, increased regulation and rationing of airport capacity since its reinstitution of the slots program in 2008. If these airports (PHL, JFK, EWR, LGA) were not handling connecting passengers, the existing airport capacity is sufficient to handle the O&D traffic. If connecting passengers were removed, and scheduled flights adjusted to meet only the O&D demand, existing capacity is sufficient. These airports need to outsource their connections to match local traffic within airport capacity.
Three steps are required to establish the Pittsburgh CASE Program:
- Traffic at Philadelphia (PHL), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR) and LaGuardia (LGA)is kept at their hourly optimal capacity, as identified by the FAA
- Incentives to induce airlines to participate in the Pittsburgh CASE Program
- Airline Participation in the Pittsburgh CASE Program by an airline seeking to improve customer service
Currently, Philadelphia International Airport is proposing to begin a $5.3 billion expansion project to extend and construct new runways in an effort to alleviate congestion. Additionally, the Manhattan-based Regional Plan Association is recommending $15 billion in overhauls to reduce delays and allow for more takeoffs at the three New York Airports. Pittsburgh International Airport meanwhile has the capability to reduce that congestion with a much smaller investment of federal funds, giving Federal, State and local government alternatives to reducing delays when funding is not widely available. Under the PIT CASE, capital investment savings would equal nearly $20 billion at the four East Coast Airports without considering the savings related to reduced fuel costs and passenger delays.
For more information, the Pittsburgh CASE white paper is on the airport’s website: PDF