New Poll: Big Concerns About NYC Metro Airport Delays

Regional Plan Association today released the results of a public opinion poll on airports in the New York - New Jersey - Connecticut metropolitan area.  The poll shows that, except for the cost of air travel, the public believes flight delays are the biggest problem plaguing travel, and that many solutions are heavily supported including better rail alternatives, use of Stewart Airport in Orange County for more flights, investment in modern air traffic control systems known as NEXTGEN and redesign of air traffic flight patterns.


New Poll on Metro Airports Reveals Big Concern About Delays

Public Wants Better Rail Alternatives, More Use of Stewart Airport and New Technology; Rejects "Congestion Pricing"

(New York, NY) - Regional Plan Association today released the results of a public opinion poll on airports in the New York - New Jersey - Connecticut metropolitan area.  The poll shows that, except for the cost of air travel, the public believes flight delays are the biggest problem plaguing travel, and that many solutions are heavily supported including better rail alternatives, use of Stewart Airport in Orange County for more flights, investment in modern air traffic control systems known as NEXTGEN and redesign of air traffic flight patterns.
"Air traffic congestion and the delays it causes damages the metro area's economy; this poll and the analysis we have undertaken will point to the feasible solutions to solve air congestion that otherwise is only going to get worse," said Jeffrey Zupan, study director and Senior Fellow at the Association.  
The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research between August 20-27, 2009 among 812 adults in the 31-county, three-state New York Metropolitan Region.
"This poll gives us a window into the thinking of New York metropolitan area residents and in particular those who fly to and from the three major airports," said Al Quinlan, President of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. 

Key findings include:

Flight delays are a top problem for airports to focus on - more important than baggage check-in and retrieval, security lines, or the difficulty of moving on, around or to the airport.  Delays are judged much more important than number of choices as to where to fly, when to fly, or whether the flights are non-stop.   Ninety-two of every 100 respondents believe that flight delays are an "important issue for airports to focus on." (See Table One: Concerns with Air Travel.)

There is wide-ranging support for potential solutions.  Four ideas received at least 20 % more favoring than opposed. (See Appendix A: Congestion Proposals.)  These include speeded up intercity rail service - 69 % favor and only 27 % oppose; use of Stewart Airport in Orange County for more flights to relieve the three airports - 64 % favor to 32 % oppose; investment in modern air traffic control systems known as NEXTGEN - 61 % favor to 34 % oppose, and redesign of air traffic flight patterns - 58 % favor to 35 % oppose.  

Support for these ideas varied significantly.  Intercity rail service and NEXTGEN were both more heavily supported among frequent flyers and business travelers. Not surprisingly, those who live closer to Stewart favored its use more than those who live in New York City, much farther away.

Other ideas that received more support than opposition, but by lesser margins including banning smaller planes and planes traveling shorter distances during peak times, more flights from other more far away airports and the expansion of the three existing airports.

Building an entirely new airport anywhere in the Region was rejected by a majority, as was pricing flights by time of day to encourage shifts of travel time away from the peak periods. 

Almost everyone, 91 percent, said changes were necessary and more than half of those felt major changes were needed.  Among those who experienced the worst delays and delays more often a very large majority - 66% and 76% respectively, believed that major changes were called for.   

Waiting to take off from the three major airports - LaGuardia, JFK and Newark-Liberty - is the worst component of delay - more important than delays in the air, or at the airport terminal waiting to board, or delays after landing or waiting to pull into a gate.  Sixty-six percent of the frequent flyers find waiting to take-off the biggest problem, with never more then 13 % of this group rating other components of delay the biggest problem. (See Table Two: Tarmac Delays Seen As Biggest Problem.)

Air traffic congestion is getting worse.  Six times as many of those responding to the poll think that air traffic congestion is getting worse rather than better - 37 % to 6 %.  Among frequent flyers and business travelers almost half - 47% and 43 % respectively - thought delays are getting worse, this despite the recent drop in number of flyers and flights during the current recession.  Only 9 % think the problem is easing. 

Other than bad weather, respondents concluded that the chief cause of delays was just too many people for too little air and runway space.  In an open ended question about what they thought was the biggest cause of delays at the three airports, the variations of the same theme were continually cited. "Too few airports. Too many flights." or "Runway availability." 

The poll was conducted by Regional Plan Association, which is in the midst of a major study of the future of the airports in the New York - New Jersey Connecticut metropolitan area and how best to prepare for growth while reducing air traffic and airport congestion.  

RPA also launched a companion website this week - www.BetterAirportsNYNJ.com - as part of the study and in an effort to inform and activate the public on the issue of airport congestion.

The study findings and recommendations are due next year.  More information about the study can be found on the web at www.BetterAirportsNYNJ.com.

Read the Release 
Read the Findings

 

News Coverage

Survey finds travelers want more flights out of Stewart Airport to reduce NYC delays
(Middletown Times Herald-Record © 09/22/2009)
A recent survey shows fliers support routing more flights through Stewart International Airport to reduce delays in the New York Metropolitan Region. The survey, commissioned by the Regional Plan Association, found that aside from the cost of flights, fliers consider delays the biggest problem plaguing travel.

Lower air fares, reducing delays are top concerns at Newark Liberty, area airports
(Newark Star Ledger © 09/22/2009)
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research polled 812 adults in the 31-county, three-state New York metropolitan region between August 20-27. The poll was conducted by Regional Plan Association, a transportation advocacy group that is in the midst of a major study on ways to relieve airport congestion and delays...

Poll: Delays, fares worry fliers most
(Hackensack Record © 09/23/2009)
The public wants better rail alternatives and more investment in satellite technology to help reduce congestion at three of the area's five major airports, according to the Regional Plan Association survey. "Air traffic congestion and the delays it causes damages the metro area's economy," said Jeffrey Zupan, study director and senior fellow at the advocacy group.

Poll: Stewart offers alternative to three major airports
(Poughkeepsie Journal © 09/23/2009)
One of the more popular solutions is to use Stewart International Airport to ease the burden at the three major airports: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty. So said the Regional Plan Association in a report Tuesday on a poll it conducted among 812 people in the three-state metropolitan region.

Poll Finds Opposition to Building New Airport
(New York Times © 09/23/2009)
The survey is part of a year-long study conducted by the Regional Plan Association on the problems of airport congestion. The association plans to release ...

Top flight gripes
(New York Post © 09/23/2009)
At least 95 percent of passengers gripe that airfares are too high, and 92 percent say flight delays need to be reduced immediately, according to a study by the Regional Plan Association, a transportation advocacy group.

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