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Expanding Airport Capacity in Large Urban Areas

image of Expanding Airport Capacity in Large Urban Areas

Expanding airport capacity in large metropolitan areas is difficult. Community agreements on noise constrain growth at existing airports. Land prices can be prohibitive for relocating airports. Most new sites require extensive investment in surface transport links to city centres. In multi-airport regions, options for expansion at the airports are to an extent interdependent, complicating assessment of whether to build new runways.

Many major airports are hubs for network carriers at the same time as serving a large local market. The complementarity between these functions may be a prerequisite for viable network operations, suggesting that distributing services over multiple airports instead of expanding the main hub would be costly. Hub airports and their network carriers often compete with hubs in neighbouring regions. The strategies of network carriers and potential new entrants to this part of the market need to be taken into account in assessing future demand for airport capacity. The requirements of low cost and other point-to-point carriers are equally important, but different.

This report reviews international experience in reconciling planning and environmental constraints with demand for airport capacity and the potential benefits in terms of productivity and growth from developing international airline services. Experience is compared in London, New York, Tokyo, Osaka, Sydney and in Germany’s main airports with particular attention to the dynamics of airline markets and implications for airport planning in multi-airport cities.

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Upgrading to world class

the future of the New York region's airports

International Transport Forum

The New York metropolitan region’s three major airports --- Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark – regularly register the worse delays among airports in the United States. Moreover, the air traffic capacity of these airports is at or close to its limits during peak times, with anticipated growth resulting in either more delays or thwarted air passenger travel. The lack of capacity to handle air passenger volumes, expected to reach upwards of 150 million by the late 2030s from 109 million today, will seriously impact the ability of the region to grow economically. Thus, solutions to this problem are vital to prevent these economic losses.

This report examines the variety of measures that might address the issues of delay and capacity limits. Possible steps include: greater use of other more outlying airports in the region, diversion of passengers to higher speed intercity rail, technological improvements to the air navigation system, management of demand through pricing and other means to shift air traffic from peak periods, and construction of an entirely new airport. The report concludes that intercity rail and navigational improvements, and some diversion to two outlying airports will be of assistance when taken together, but not nearly enough to address the need. Therefore, the addition of one or more runways at Kennedy and at Newark airport is by default the best option to provide the necessary capacity, if the redesign of these airports can be implemented. The report suggests some runway configurations at those two airports for consideration.

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