Today’s news:

Flight delays cost NY $5B in ‘07: Schumer

Flight delays not only "drive passengers crazy" but last year cost the New York City area $4.9 billion in lost productivity, cancelled vacations and higher fuel costs, according to a report by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Schumer said the cost of domestic air traffic delays cost the U.S. economy as much as $41 billion for 2007 and that "New Yorkers bear the brunt of those costs because we endure the worst delays in the nation and our airports are the business intersection of the country."

"When a plane is sitting on the runway or circling in the sky for hours on end, it isn't only burning time and fuel, it's burning money," Schumer said at a news conference Sunday.

"The chaos in New York skies is not only driving passengers crazy but also costing them, the airlines and the New York City economy billions," Schumer said.

John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports accounted for more than 12 percent of the ground based passenger delay hours in the nation last year, the report said.

Passengers were delayed last year more than 10 million hours at JFK, 9 million at Newark Liberty and nearly 8 million at LaGuardia, according to the report.

"The unbelievable waste associated with flight delays in New York City reaches far beyond the tarmac, fares going up and the economy continues to sour — this is a perfect storm for passengers," said Schumer.

Schumer said he is introducing legislation "aimed at getting at the root causes of flight delays to try to bring New York travelers some relief and reduce the severity of the economic effects of congestion in the skies."

The senator has long called on the federal government to modernize what critics called a 1950s-era flight control system and hire more air traffic controllers.

He also called for permanently opening military air space to commercial airliners.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136

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