NYT – “Don’t Rehab LaGuardia Airport. Close It.” Replace w/ a direct rail link to JFK & Newark

by Adam

Improved rail access to JFK and Newark and the increased use and investment in secondary airports like ISP and SWF make more sense than improving LaGuardia…in fact LGA should be completely demolished. That’s the opinion of George Haikalis in a New York Times published in an op-ed piece this morning. It’s definitely an interesting read! He notes that there are precedents for replacing airports close to major cities with modern airports further away.

The money budgeted for the LaGuardia upgrades would be better used to create a long-proposed one-ride express-rail link between Manhattan and JFK, by reviving a long-disused, 3.5-mile stretch of track in central Queens and completing the modernization of the terminals at Kennedy. Currently, passengers who use the AirTrain to reach Kennedy must transfer from subways or the Long Island Rail Road. A world-class, direct rail trip to Kennedy could match the current travel time of even a fast, off-peak car trip to LaGuardia.

With the consolidation of the major United States airlines and the sluggishness in the global economy, the much larger Kennedy and Newark airports could accommodate La Guardia’s passenger load, by adding more frequent service and using larger aircraft, if the F.A.A. were to lift the caps on the number of flights allowed there. Kennedy, with its two sets of parallel runways, could handle many more flights, particularly as new air-traffic control technology is introduced in the next few years.

Most flights serving La Guardia already duplicate flights that serve Kennedy and Newark. Many of these flights are to a relatively small number of regional hubs. Average loads per flight at La Guardia are only two-thirds those at Kennedy. Small regional jets, with fewer than 100 seats per plane, make up a little more than half of La Guardia’s peak-period flights. Airline efficiency would be improved by concentrating traffic on fewer, larger aircraft, while still maintaining service to major hubs.

Living in midtown, I always choose LGA when traveling domestically and I’d certainly miss it. Though, if I could be guaranteed a short 15 minute non-stop train ride from midtown to JFK or EWR, I’d deal with it. What do you think?  Check out the full piece here.

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Tom May 8, 2015 - 8:50 pm

I don’t believe the assertion that Kennedy could handle the traffic. Anyone who has been #30 for departure there on a good weather day will agree. Maybe by flying bigger planes to less destinations and less frequently, but that is not what passengers want.

At LGA, the Delta terminals A, C and D are perfectly adequate. It is only terminal B that houses all the other airlines (expect USAir) that really sucks.

02nz May 9, 2015 - 5:02 pm

Interesting idea but if anything in recent years older airports closer to the city center have tended to get a new lease on life – Bangkok Don Mueang reopened even though it was supposed to be completely replaced by Suvarnabhumi; Tokyo-Haneda has now nearly as many international connections (even long-haul ones to Europe and the U.S.) as Narita; there are extensive short-haul int’l connections between Haneda, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Seoul-Gimpo, and Taipei-Songshan; DCA will soon overtake IAD in traffic if it hasn’t already; and Dallas-Love Field is growing quickly now that Wright Amendment restrictions have been lifted.

Shannon May 11, 2015 - 9:27 pm

Adam, what are options from midtown to LGA except taxi? What’s your most preferred way to get there?


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