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Solve LGA’s delays with bigger jets: PA

With major airlines cutting back on the number of flights in and out of LaGuardia Airport, officials at the Port Authority suggested that the aviation companies and U.S. Department of Transportation explore the idea of going big.

During Borough President Helen Marshall's Aviation Advisory Council's meeting June 25, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey managers who oversee the operations of the airport said they strongly oppose the DOT's proposal to auctioning off slots, or the number of flights operated in one day.

Ralph Tragale, the PA's manager of government and community relations, said the plan would do absolutely nothing to curb delays at LaGuardia, which the DOT said is one of the top three airports in the country for late flights.

"They premise their argument that it will solve the congestion delays," he said. "We're not sure how the two are related, because if you pick a slot and give it to someone else, I'm not sure how it will stop congestion and delays."

Tragale added that the plan would hurt passengers in more ways because it would increase ticket prices and burden people in small communities in upstate New York, who travel frequently to the city. Those passengers would have to take different flights to other airports that are farther from the city and would waste time and money according to Tragale.

As a solution, the PA manager suggested that the airline industry and the government look into getting larger, more modern aircraft. By having more people on one plane, the airport would be able to keep the same number of passengers while saving its airspace, according to Tragale.

"People want to come to New York... so we want to have the same number of flights, but we want them to be on the newest, quietest and largest aircraft," he said.

Warren Kroeppel, LaGuardia's general manager, said this idea would be feasible since the PA is currently planning to update the central terminal. Kroeppel said the terminal was in dire need of a renovation to serve flyers in the 21st century.

"This was the boon of Queens during the 1964 World's Fair, and it accommodates that [year's] traffic, and now we have a 45-year-old-plus terminal that's at the end of its usable life," he said.

Kroeppel said the PA is still exploring options on how to effectively change the terminal without disrupting service and hopes to have a definite plan by the end of the summer.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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